SEATTLE (Reuters) – A Seattle cartoonist who stirred up a religious storm with a tongue-in-cheek encouragement to draw images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed has gone into hiding after a threat to her safety.
According to Seattle Weekly, which originally published an illustration by cartoonist Molly Norris entitled "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," Norris was told by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to "go ghost."
"On the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI," Norris is "moving, changing her name and essentially wiping away her identity," a Seattle Weekly report said on Thursday.
The Seattle office of the FBI did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric linked to al Qaeda and thought to be hiding in Yemen, said this summer on a website that social satirist Norris was a "prime target."
Norris originally launched her mock campaign in protest at threats of violence issued against those who depict Mohammed, which is considered blasphemous in Muslim culture.
The issue became a flashpoint five years ago when a caricature by Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard sparked sometimes violent protests. U.S. cartoon TV series South Park stirred up controversy and more threats earlier this year with its depiction of Mohammed in a bear suit.
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Todd Eastham)