Friday, Sep. 10, 2010

Everybody Draw Muhammad Day

As opposition to extremist forms of Islam grew after 9/11, more non-Muslims began to hone in on what they saw as some of the more fundamentalist ideas within the religion. The strict prohibition against depicting the image of the Prophet Muhammad is one of them. Since 2001, there have been several artists who deigned to do just that in their work. Most recently, there was Danish artist Kurt Westergaard, who in 2006 drew a cartoon of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Westergaard has been in hiding ever since, managing to survive an ax attack in his living room earlier this year.

But that news didn't stop Seattle-based artist Molly Norris from establishing May 20, 2010, as Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. In creating the Internet meme, Norris was protesting death threats made against the creators of the raunchy Comedy Central show South Park, which had aired an episode starring Muhammad obscured by a black box with the word censored. It was the third time that the show's creators had included the Prophet in their story line (the second was banned from airing). After word got out about Norris' protest, a Facebook page appeared to promote it. Upon learning of the page, the government of Pakistan banned the social-networking site. After two weeks of rancor and quite a few offensive contributions, Facebook finally removed the page. And Norris reportedly received her own death threats as well as a warning from the FBI that she should consider them "very serious."