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Everybody Draw Mohammed Day (alt: ‘Draw Muhammad Day’) is an online protest against people who threatened violence against individuals that attempt to depict the Muslim prophet Muhammad -- an act forbidden by a few Islamic texts. It started out as a protest against cable television network Comedy Central after they decided to censor “201”, an episode of the cartoon South Park. The protest grew to target Muslim radicals after it came to light that Comedy Central censored the program only after receiving death threats over the South Park episode.
In early April 2010, South Park episodes 200 and 201 featured a character in a bear costume, who various other characters stated was Muhammad. The South Park episode sparked statements from the extremist website Revolution Muslim, which posted a picture of the partially decapitated body of the Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, with a statement declaring that Parker and Stone could meet a similar fate.
The group running the website said it was not threatening Parker and Stone, however, it also posted the addresses of Comedy Central’s New York office and the California production studio where South Park is made. Comedy Central self-censored the episode when it was broadcast by removing the word “Muhammad” and a speech about intimidation and fear from the South Park episode.
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
Organizing around “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” began on April 20, 2010 when Seattle-based cartoonist Molly Norris published a cartoon suggesting that people create drawings representing Muhammad in response to the censorship. These images were to be posted to the internet on May 20, 2010 in protest against the efforts of religious extremists to limit freedom of speech. Norris believed that if enough people posted drawings of Muhammad, it would be impossible for Muslim extremists to issue fatwas (death sentences) against every person.
The protest migrated over to Facebook where a page was created -- “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” -- encouraging users to post images of the prophet on May 20th as Norris had instructed. The Facebook group attracted over 100,000 fans and the campaign gained considerable media attention.
Additionally, a blog was created for the Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor, the fictional sponsor of Norris’ first drawing.
Molly Norris Goes Into Hiding
As a result of her role in the campaign, Molly Norris gained considerable notoriety in the radical Muslim community. On September 15, 2010 it was reported that Norris had gone into hiding as a result of death threats over a fatwa issued by Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Drawing Prohibited by Islam
According to hadith texts (but not the Qur’an) Muslims are prohibited from creating depictions of any living creature with three dimensional shade in cases where the subject would be venerated. Depictions of living creatures for any purpose other than education is considered sinful in Islam, with the exception of creating drawings for the purpose of education. Because the prophet Mohammed is considered to the be the holiest of all Muslim prophets, a drawing of him is considered blasphemous by most fundamental interpretations of Islam.
Danish Newspaper Jyllands-Posten
On September 30th, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 editorial cartoons; many of which depicted caricature of the prophet Mohammed. The publication of the cartoons resulted in a number of protests throughout Europe and the Middle east, some of which erupted into violently deadly riots. (see Wikipdia for more details)