WASHINGTON — A Seattle cartoonist whose satirical work inspired the controversial “Everybody Draw Mohammed Page” on Facebook has gone into hiding, the newspaper which published her comics said Wednesday.
Molly Norris has moved and changed her name following a call for her assassination by US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, The Seattle Weekly said.
“You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week,” the newspaper said. “That’s because there is no more Molly.”
“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 is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program — except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab,” the newspaper said.
Norris drew a cartoon in April to protest the decision by the US television channel Comedy Central to cancel an episode of the popular show “South Park” over its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit.
In her cartoon, Norris satirically proposed May 20 as an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”
An “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” page quickly turned up on Facebook but Norris, writing on her since-shuttered website at mollynorris.com, said she had nothing to do with it.
“I did NOT ‘declare’ May 20 to be ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,’” she said, adding that her idea was satire that was “taken seriously, hijacked and made viral.”
“I apologize to people of Muslim faith and ask that this ‘day’ be called off,” she said.
Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous and the “Draw Mohammed” page led to Facebook being temporarily blocked in Pakistan and sparked angry street protests.
In July, an English-language Al-Qaeda magazine, “Inspire,” in an article attributed to Awlaki, the radical Yemeni cleric, said Norris “should be taken as a prime target of assassination.”
Awlaki, who is based in Yemen, rose to prominence last year after it emerged he had communicated by email with Major Nidal Hasan, a US army psychiatrist accused of opening fire on colleagues at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13.