by Michael Cavna
Comic Riffs, 9/22/2010
Responding to last week's news that "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" cartoonist Molly Norris had gone into hiding at the FBI's urging, Philadelphia Daily News editorial cartoonist Signe Wilkinson has made a statement with her ink-dipped sword.
This week, the Pulitzer-winning political cartoonist took to the drawing board to depict a Norris-like figure going incognito by donning traditional Muslim attire.
"If cartoonists don't stick up for our own right to draw what we think is true and right, no one else will," Wilkinson tells Comic Riffs of her response to the fatwa against Norris. "We need to point out over and and over again that cartoons don't kill people. Fundamentalist religious fanatics with zero sense of humor kill people."
"There is a simple solution," Wilkinson continues. "If humorless 'believers' don't want us drawing tasteless cartoons about their prophets, they shouldn't do tasteless things in the name of those prophets.
"Until then, however, I'm afraid cartoonists just have to keep doing our job."
Seattle Weekly -- to which Norris was a contributor -- reported last
week that the Seattle-based illustrator had gone into hiding and changed her
name at the guidance of the FBI.
In confirming that report, Comic Riffs has been in contact with Norris last week and this week.
Several months ago, FBI officials alerted Norris to what they were treating as a "very serious threat," according to a report. At that time, Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki said that Norris was a "prime target" for execution and that her "proper abode is hellfire.
Norris drew her "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" cartoon in April in response to Comedy Central's editing of its program "South Park" and the animated show's attempts to depict Muhammad, which some Muslims consider blasphemous. On April 25, shortly after Norris created her "anti-censorship" cartoon, she told Comic Riffs she was retreating from her illustration and that she didn't endorse the campaign.
Shortly after, Wilkinson and more than a dozen fellow Pulitzer-winning cartoonists signed a petition to condemn "the threat" by a pro-jihad group against "South Park" creator Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Wilkinson also notes that she's "done two cartoons supporting [the] right to build the mosque" and Islamic community center near Ground Zero."
Wilkinson tells Comic Riffs: "I support the entire First Amendment -- freedom of speech and religion."