Cartoonist on Al Qaeda on hit list in hiding
Even though Norris backed off the idea for a “Draw Muhammad Day,” the bounty remained. She took her concerns to the FBI, and agents in the Seattle field office told her the threats on her life were legitimate. She was encouraged to go underground.
Dan Springer reports: Cartoonists around the world reacted defiantly to Wednesday’s deadly Islamist terror attack at the offices of a Paris magazine, but the case of Molly Norris shows how the attack and prior threats of similar violence have already had a chilling effect on journalists who use art to convey their stories.
Seattle Weekly reported that Norris moved, changed her name and is living in hiding akin to the witness protection program. Editors have not heard from Norris and they have received no more cartoons from her.
Norris, a Seattle-based political cartoonist, has been in hiding for more than four years after she launched “Draw Muhammad Day,” a call to professional and amateur artists alike to sketch the Islamic prophet whose image is forbidden by the Koran.
“It was like a one-day story, then it was gone,” says Kelley. “She went underground and that was it, gone. And most people don’t even know who Molly Norris is.”
Norris was an obscure cartoonist and blogger who took action after the creators of the show South Park were targeted by Muslim extremists for an upcoming episode in which Muhammad was to be depicted. The hit show’s producers caved to the pressure of death threats and blurred the image of Muhammad when the show aired.
“We are no longer a free country if we journalists can’t criticize a religion that, for example, believes apostates need to be killed.”
– Larry Kelley, former colleague of Molly Norris
Norris’ own cartoon image of Muhammad was never published in the Seattle Weekly, which often carried her work, but it went viral on the Internet. U.S. born Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki issued a fatwa, calling for the killing of Norris. Read the rest of this entry »