'Draw Muhammad' artist placed on execution hit list; her online sites disappear
NOTE: This post has been updated since Monday morning ET.
A radical Islamic leader has placed Molly Norris -- the artist who helped spawn the recent "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day!" before distancing herself from the campaign -- on an execution hit list, according to the New York Daily News.
FBI officials alerted Norris to what they are treating as a "very serious threat," according to the report.
The Islamic leader is Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born 39-year-old who has been called arguably the highest-profile English-speaking supporter of violent jihad. Awlaki has been linked to the recent Times Square bombing attempt and reportedly inspired Texas's Fort Hood massacre.
Awlaki reportedly says that Norris is a "prime target" for execution and that her "proper abode is hellfire."
Writing in the English-language Al Qaeda magazine that calls itself "Inspire," Awlaki condemns nine people -- including Norris and two European illustrators (Lars Vilks and Kurt Westergaard) whom he accuses of creating "blasphemous caricatures" of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
"We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda-inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target," David Gomez, FBI assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle, told the Daily News.
Norris, a Seattle artist, drew her "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" cartoon in April in response to Comedy Central's editing of its program "South Park" and the animated show's attempts to depict Muhammad -- and to satirize reactions to any effort to ridicule Muhammad.
Awlaki has served as an imam in Virginia and California. Comedy Central's editing of "South Park" followed inflammatory posts about the show's creators by the pro-jihad website Revolution Muslim. News reports said the Revolution Muslim posts were by Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee -- a.k.a. Zachary Adam Chesser of Virginia. The Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism said Chesser, a recent George Mason University student, wanted to start a Revolution Muslim chapter in Washington, D.C., according to a FoxNews.com report.
On April 25, shortly after the Norris created her "anti-censorship" cartoon, Comic Riffs broke the news that Norris was distancing herself from the illustration:
"I made a cartoon that went viral but [this campaign] isn't really my thing," Norris told Comic Riffs. "Other folks have taken it over." She said she was retreating from that appropriation. The cartoon was publicized by Seattle radio and such prominent bloggers as Dan Savage, who told Comic Riffs in April that he received the e-mailed cartoon from Norris.
Norris's Facebook account has been taken down and the content from her personal page, MollyNorris.com, is no longer viewable. Her April YouTube video of her explanation for the cartoon has also been "removed by the user." In that video, Norris apologized to "everyone of the Muslim faith who has or will be offended" by her cartoon and supported calling off "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day," which was staged May 20. She also urged America's Muslims and non-Muslims to come together -- to meet "halfway."
At the time, Norris also posted a new cartoon titled "Diet of Fear," that reads: "All you have to do is tick off a few million Muslims and you'll be too afraid to eat!"
The day before the May 20 "Draw Muhammad Day," Norris told Comic Riffs that her stance was: "Fight for the right to draw Mohammed, then decline doing so."
"If I had wanted my one-off cartoon to be the basis for a worldwide movement to draw Mohammed, then at this moment I should be thrilled" Norris told Comic Riffs. "But instead I am horrified! My one-off cartoon that was specifically about Comedy Central's behaviour [sic] vs. Revolution Muslim's threat leading to a slippery slope of censorship in America is not good for a long-term plan.
"The results have shown to be vitriolic and worse, offensive to Muslims who had nothing to do with the censorship issue I was inspired to draw about in the first place."
On May 19, Norris also told Comic Riffs that she attended a Seattle-area "Seerah Conference that was started by a local mosque four years ago after the Danish cartoon debacle. The folks there had to babysit me because I was so upset by this whole viral phenomenon."
Continued Norris: "I have spoken with some women at that mosque about possibly making short documentaries about areas where they see there may be a need to help non-Muslims understand their culture. These could be both entertaining and informative -- I hope it happens!"
| July 12, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories: General | Tags: Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, Molly Norris
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