'Draw Muhammad' cartoonist MOLLY NORRIS changes name, goes into hiding at FBI's insistence [UPDATED]
Note: This report was originally published Sept. 15.
Seattle Weekly announced Wednesday that it will no longer run Molly Norris's artwork. The newspaper is also reporting that legally, there is no more "Molly Norris."
Norris -- the Seattle-based illustrator whose cartoon sparked "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!" earlier this year and a subsequent fatwa against her -- has gone into hiding and changed her name at the guidance of the FBI, reports the Seattle Weekly, which says:
"The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, 'going ghost': moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor."
Seattle Weekly also says that the artist likens the situation to cancer -- the threat could be benign, it could be more serious and sudden.
Comic Riffs had last communicated with Norris in July. Update:On Thursday, Comic Riffs was able to contact the artist, who directly confirmed the report.
Several months ago, FBI officials alerted Norris to what they were treating as a "very serious threat," according to a report. At that time, Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki said that Norris was a "prime target" for execution and that her "proper abode is hellfire."
Awlaki, a New Mexico-born 39-year-old, has been called arguably the highest-profile English-speaking supporter of violent jihad. He has been linked to the recent Times Square bombing attempt and reportedly inspired Texas's Fort Hood massacre.
Norris 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.
On April 25, shortly after 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."
On May 19, Norris 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."
Several months ago, Norris's April YouTube video of her explanation for the cartoon was "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."
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| September 16, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories: General, The Political Cartoon | Tags: Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, Molly Norris, Seattle Weekly
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