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January 18, 2015 6:28 pm

The American Cartoonist Forced to Change Her Identity Because of Islamic Terror Threats

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"All is forgiven." I am Charlie." Cover of the Jan. 14 edition of Charlie Hebdo featuring the Prophet Mohammed. Photo: Twitter.

"All is forgiven. I am Charlie." Cover of the Jan. 14 edition of Charlie Hebdo featuring the Prophet Mohammed. The first post-attack issue of the magazine was sold out in minutes after going on sale. Photo: Twitter.

According to Larry Kelley, “Molly Norris is the first … American journalist forced into hiding by radical Islam inside the United States.” Mr. Kelley is a writer and founder of the Free Molly Norris Foundation.

It was April 2010 when the Seattle-based cartoonist Molly Norris protested Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of “South Park,” so as not to offend Islamic extremists. A radical Muslim website had posted addresses of Comedy Central’s offices along with photos of Theo Van Gogh. It seemed to imply that the producers could meet the same fate as the murdered Dutch filmmaker. Molly Norris wanted to push back against the fear.

Molly declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on Facebook. Norris told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross that cartoonists are meant to challenge the lines of political correctness. “That’s a cartoonist’s job, to be non-PC.” Norris’ campaign went viral. Days later a fatwa was issued against her.

Things moved quickly.

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“It’s been horrible,” Norris told a Seattle paper. “I’m just trying to breathe and get through it.” When Pakistan blocked Facebook in response to her actions, it must have seemed surreal to Norris.

By September, the writing was on the wall. An article entitled “Woman behind ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ forced to go into hiding,” appeared in Inspire. An excerpt from the article:

Seattle Weekly editor-in-chief Mark D. Fefer announced inWednesday’s issue that Molly Norris’ comic would no longer appear in the paper. Fefer wrote that the FBI advised Norris to move, change her name and wipe away her identity because of a religious edict issued this summer that threatened her life. She is, in effect, being put in a witness-protection program – except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab, Fefer wrote.

When last we heard of Molly Norris, it was in September of 2010. Her editor wrote the following:

You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. 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,” he wrote.

When FBI agents, on a recent visit, instructed her to always keep watch for anyone following her, she joked, “Well, at least it’ll keep me from being so self-involved!” It was, she says, the first time the agents managed a smile. She likens the situation to cancer—it might basically be nothing, it might be urgent and serious, it might go away and never return, or it might pop up again when she least expects it. We’re hoping the religious bigots go into full and immediate remission, and we wish her the best.

The Seattle editor’s statement, likening the Islamists to “religious bigots,” would likely never be published today.

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