This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Terrorist intimidation has just cost a Seattle cartoonist her freedom. Her crime: exercising her First Amendment rights.
That’s Seattle, as in the United States. There doesn’t seem to be a Seattle in Yemen.
Molly Norris, whose work appears in the Seattle Weekly, gained international attention last spring after she drew a mock promotion of an imaginary event, “Everbody Draw Mohammed Day.” The spoof poster, published on Facebook, depicted various inanimate objects – including a coffee cup and a domino – each claiming to be the true likeness of the founder of Islam.
Norris drew it as a satirical comment on Comedy Central’s censorship of two South Park episodes in which cartoon characters refer to another character – inside a bear costume – as Muhammad. Comedy Central backed away from those episodes because of death threats from radical Muslims.
The poster proposed “Draw Mohammed Day” to – in its own words – “defend a little something our country is famous for … the First Amendment.”
Taken seriously by many, the fictitious event went viral. Pakistan – one of the world’s largest countries – has responded by shutting down Facebook within its borders. Anwar al-Awlaki, a fugitive U.S.-born cleric, has issued a fatwa calling for Norris’ death.
Some fatwas are more to be feared than others. This one is apparently much to be feared. The Seattle Weekly’s editor-in-chief, Mark Fefer, wrote Wednesday that “Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly.”
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