Upper part of the cartoon "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!"

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! is a drawing posted on the Internet on April 20, 2010, the suggestion in it that everybody create a drawing representing Muhammad, the founder of Islam, on May 20, 2010 as a protest against efforts to limit freedom of speech, and the movement in support of that protest. The cartoonist, Molly Norris of Seattle, Washington, created the artwork in reaction to alleged Internet death threats that had been made against cartoonists Trey Parker and Matt Stone for depicting Muhammad in an episode of South Park. Postings on had said that Parker and Stone could wind up like Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was brutally murdered and mutilated by a Muslim extremist. (The individuals running the website later denied that the postings were actual threats, although they were widely perceived as such.)

Norris said that if millions of people draw pictures of Muhammad, Islamist terrorists would not be able to murder them all, and threats to do so would become unrealistic. Within a week, Norris' idea became popular on Facebook, was supported by numerous bloggers, and generated coverage on the blog websites of major U.S. newspapers. As the publicity mounted, Norris and the man who created the first Facebook page promoting the May 20 event disassociated themselves from it. Nonetheless, planning for the protest continued with others taking "up the cause".[1]

Cartoon description[]

Norris drew the original, poster-like cartoon on April 20, 2010 which declared May 20, 2010 to be "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". The drawing showed various objects, including a coffee cup, a tomato and a box of pasta, some anthropomorphized with legs, arms and faces, with each claiming to be the likeness of Muhammad. (Norris used the alternate spelling of Mohammed on her poster).[2] Across the top of the illustration she wrote:

In light of the recent veiled (ha!) threats aimed at the creators of the television show South Park ... by bloggers on Revolution Muslim's website, we hereby deem May 20, 2010 as the first annual 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!' Do your part to both water down the pool of targets and, oh yeah, defend a little something our country is famous for (but maybe not for long? Comedy Central cooperated with terrorists and pulled the episode) the first amendment.

— Molly Norris (April 20, 2010),

The poster included a claim of sponsorship by an organization named "Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor or CACAH (pronounced ca-ca)", which Norris later said was purely fictional.[3]

In late April, after she had rejected the idea for the May 20 protest, Norris stated on her website: "This was always a drawing about rights, never MEANT to disrespect religion. Alas -- if we don't have rights, we will not be able to practice the religion of our choice. [...] None of these little characters ARE the likeness of Mohammed, they are just CLAIMING to be!" She also wrote, "I, the cartoonist, NEVER launched a draw Mohammed day. It is, in this FICTIONAL poster sponsored by this FICTIONAL GROUP", referring to the "Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor" wording in the cartoon. "SATIRE about a CURRENT EVENT, people!!! (That's what cartoonist's do!" (sic)[4]



Episode 201 of South Park, broadcast in early April 2010, featured a character in a bear costume who various other characters stated was Muhammad. Before the broadcast, news of it sparked statements on the website. The group running the website said it was not threatening Parker and Stone, however, it posted a picture of the partially decapitated body of the Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, a statement that Parker and Stone could meet the same fate, and the addresses of Comedy Central’s New York office and the California production studio where South Park is made.[5] Comedy Central broadcast the episode by removing the word "Muhammad" and a speech about intimidation and fear from the South Park episode.[5]

Early publicity[]

Norris sent a copy of her illustration to Dan Savage, who posted it on his blog on April 22. On April 23, she told a Seattle radio talk show, "As a cartoonist I just felt so much passion about what had happened I wanted to kind of counter Comedy Central's message they sent about feeling afraid." She also said, "it's a cartoonist's job to be non-PC."[6] On her website, Norris stated that the idea was not to disrespect Islam, but to support everybody's freedom of expression.[7]

An "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page was created by Jon Wellington. By the morning of April 26, the page had almost 6,000 confirmed guests. By April 25, someone had started a "Ban Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" counter-protest page on Facebook, which had 800 confirmed guests.[8] Bloggers at The Atlantic, Reason, National Review Online and Glenn Reynolds in his "Instapundit" blog, all posted comments and links about the proposed day, giving it wide publicity. Blogs at the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times websites also posted news about the idea.[2]

By April 27, there were over 9,000 confirmed guests that planned to participate in the protest event.[9] A story about the protest movement was one of the most popular articles highlighted on the website[10] On April 28, The Malaysian Insider reported that the protest movement "appears to be gaining ground", and some schools planned to join in the event.[11]

Michael C. Moynihan of Reason stated he planned to select some of his favorite depictions of Muhammad from the protest movement, and then add them to the website.[12]

Cartoonist and Facebook page creator end involvement[]

On April 25, Norris wrote on her website that the response to her idea had surprised and shocked her: "I did not intend for my cartoon to go viral. I did not intend to be the focus of any 'group'. I practice the First Amendment by drawing what I wish. This particular cartoon of a 'poster' seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for. I am going back to the drawing table now!"[7] On April 26, she wrote on her website: "I am NOT involved in "Everybody Draw Mohammd Day! I made a cartoon that went viral and I am not going with it. Many other folks have used my cartoon to start sites, etc. Please go to them as I am a private person who draws stuff".[2] She also asked Savage to replace the original illustration she had given him with another one she drew that was tamer, but Savage refused. Asked why she initially publicized it, she replied, "Because I'm an idiot."[2]

Norris said the campaign had grown much bigger than she initially intended, and that her cartoon was being used in ways she couldn't control. "I just want to go back to my quiet life", she told the writer of a blog about comics at The Washington Post.[8] Wellington announced on April 26 that he, too, was dropping out of the movement. "I am aghast that so many people are posting deeply offensive pictures of the Prophet," he wrote. "Y'all go ahead if that's your bag, but count me out."[2] Norris acknowledged, "I said that I wanted to counter fear and then I got afraid."[1][13] On April 29, Norris suggested that "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" be called off: "Let's call off 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' by changing it to 'Everybody Draw Al Gore Day' instead. Enough Mohammed drawings have already been made to get the point across. At this juncture, such drawings are only hurtful to more liberal and moderate Muslims who have not done anything to endanger our first amendment rights."[14] On May 1, Norris posted a marked up version of her original cartoon, apologizing to Muslims.[3]

Movement continued[]

An information technology specialist based in Toronto, Canada named Mimi helped to lead the protest movement in the wake of the departures of Norris and Wellington.[12] Mimi stated to AOL News that the protest movement should be regarded as, "pro-free speech, not anti-Muslim."[12] She commented, "If [Muslims] are offended, they have the right to be offended – just like Christians."[12] With regard to keeping with the tenets of Freedom of Speech, Mimi is permitting a wide array of depictions of Muhammad "except for those inciting violence or pornographic in nature."[12] "Mainstream society does whatever the Muslim society asks out of fear of violence or political correctness. But if you want to live in a Western society and use the system to protect your rights, you have to be willing to allow others to have theirs as well," said Mimi.[12]

According to Paste Magazine, by April 30, 2010, "Norris’ small protest [had] grown to encompass 32 Facebook events with a combined total of over 11,000 people planning to participate."[15]

Ron Nurwisah of National Post noted, "Norris' backtracking might be a bit late as the event seems to have taken a life of its own,"[16] and FOX 9 also pointed out, "she may have started something she can't stop. Others have taken up the cause of 'Everybody Draw Muhammed Day'".[1] Tim Edwards of The First Post pointed out, "It seems that nothing can now stop May 20, 2010 becoming the inaugural 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day'. Even if, in an ironic twist, its biggest backers have now been scared off."[17]


The idea for the May 20 protest received support from Kathleen Parker, an opinion columnist for the Washington Post: "Americans love their free speech and have had enough of those who think they can dictate the limits of that fundamental right. [...] Norris's cartoon was a fine idea, but she should be relieved of further duty or responsibility. As for the rest of you characters: Draw to any heart's discontent. It's a free country. For now."[18] The idea also received support from prominent bloggers and bloggers on prominent websites, such as Michael C. Moynihan at Reason magazine's "Hit & Run" blog, who encouraged his readers to send him their drawings.[19] Moynihan commented, "In the South Park episode that started all this, Buddha does lines of coke and there was an episode where Cartman started a Christian rock band that sang very homo-erotic songs. Yet there is one religious figure we can't make fun of. The point of the episode that started the controversy is that celebrities wanted Muhammad's power not to be ridiculed. How come non-Muslims aren't allowed to make jokes?"[12] Moynihan noted, "Any time you cave into terrorism, it emboldens extremists," and posited that the decision of Comedy Central to enact self-censorship of the South Park episode would have the impact of worsening the situation.[12]

Maayana Miskin of Arutz Sheva characterized the movement as "a mass protest".[20] Writing for The American Thinker, Ethel C. Fenig described the protest movement as a cause for Freedom of Speech, "Actually the main prize is the opportunity to stand up for freedom of speech. Other prizes are varying degrees of fame, annoying the liberal media plus multiple opportunities to be politically incorrect."[21] Westword commented positively on the protest idea, " The Everybody Draw Mohammed campaign urges Americans to defend their right to free speech by drawing pictures of the Muslim prophet and publishing them on May 20. Sounds like an idea we'd like to frame."[22]

Law professor Ann Althouse rejected the idea because "depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats."[23] James Taranto, writing in the "Best of the Web Today" column at The Wall Street Journal, also objected to the idea, not only because depicting Mohammed "is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others", but also because "it defines those others—Muslims—as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders."[24] Writing for New York University's Center for Religion and Media publication, The Revealer, Jeremy F. Walton called the event a "blasphemous faux holiday", which would "only serve to reinforce broader American misunderstandings of Islam and Muslims".[25] Bill Walsh of Bedford Minuteman wrote critically of the idea: "Although it’s clever, it’s also an 'in your face' reaction to the prohibition against drawing the holy figure. It attempts to battle religious zealotry with rudeness and sacrilege, and we can only wait to see what happens, but I fear it won’t be good."[26]

Rich Trzupek of FrontPage Magazine commented on the options available to "radical jihadists" in the face of the protest movement: "Reason Magazine declared May 20 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.' More of the same, we can be sure, will be coming. That leaves radical jihadists with the same uncomfortable, impossible choice that the British government faced in 1776 when Paine’s pamphlet first hit the streets. They can ignore the “make fun of Mohammed” movement, which will do nothing but embolden more Americans to do the same. Alternately, they can attack the growing number of Americans who dare to crack a joke at the expense of the founder of Islam, but doing so would simply outrage even more citizens who heretofore have stood silently on the sidelines, hoping that radical Islam might somehow fade away."[27]

Helge Rønning, a professor at the Institute of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo, said the offense to Muslims was outweighed by freedom-of-speech concerns. "Indignation from those who claim the right to engage in criticism of religion is as important as the indignation that comes from the Muslim side," he told the NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation). "I think that this is an attitude that goes deeper than whether these drawings are blasphemous or not." Vebjørn Selbekk, a Norwegian editor who was threatened in 2006 after he reprinted Danish cartoons of Mohammed in his publication, supported the May 20 protest. "I think maybe this is the right way to react—with humor, and also to spread this number, so it isn't only a few who sit with all the threats and all the discomfort associated with defending our freedom of speech in this area," he said.[28]

The protest movement and incidents surrounding the censorship of the South Park episode were discussed on the National Public Radio program, Talk of the Nation, where commentators including Ross Douthat analyzed the phenomenon of Norris withdrawing from the cartoon.[29] Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Alex Spillius commented, "No one should blame Norris for withdrawing from the fray, for this kind of case throws up lingering and insidious uncertainties. Any threat could blow over quickly or endure, Rushdie-style, for decades. The row over the cartoons depicting Mohammed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten percolated for months before bubbling over into violent protests."[30] William Wei of The Business Insider was more critical of the decision by the cartoonist to withdraw from the protest movement, with an article titled, "Artist Who Proposed 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!' To Protest South Park Censorship Wimps Out".[31]

See also[]

  • Depictions of Muhammad
  • Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy
  • Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
  • Freedom of speech versus blasphemy
  • List of newspapers that reprinted Jyllands-Posten's Muhammad cartoons
  • Andres Serrano – crucifix in urine controversy
  • Shock art
  • National Endowment for the Arts controversy
  • Jihad Jane


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Cartoonist Molly Norris Erases 'Draw Muhammad' Gag". FOX 9 ( April 26, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Orr, Jimmy, "Creators of 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day' drop gag after everybody gets angry", April 26, 2010, "Top of the Ticket" blog, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Poster described,, May 1, 2010.
  4. Norris, Mollie, Web page titled "Lighten up! This is a FICTIONAL CARTOON!" consisting of notes drawn over the original cartoon, Molly Norris website, retrieved May 2, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Griswold, Jamie, "Seattle cartoonist launches "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day", article, Associated Press, as published at website, posted 7:31 p.m., April 25, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  6. Dave Ross Interviews Molly Norris,, April 23, 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 No byline, "Cartoonist overwhelmed by response to "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day"", article, undated, website. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Cavna, Michael, "Post-'South Park': Cartoonist retreats from 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!' [UPDATED]", blog post originally posted 1 a.m. April 25, 2010, updated 9:15 a.m., April 26, 2020, "Comic Riffs" blog, Washington Post website. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  9. Miller, Julie (April 27, 2010). "The Fallout From the South Park Death Threat". Movieline (Movieline LLC). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  10. "This week's most popular Diggs". The Independent (Independent News and Media Limited). April 27, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  11. Yusof, Zeffri (April 28, 2010). "Islamic backlash aimed at moderates". The Malaysian Insider ( Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Moye, Dan (April 27, 2010). "Creators Out, But Muhammad Drawing Protest Is On". AOL News (AOL). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  13. "The PM wrestles with greatest non-core moral issue of the election after next". The Australian ( April 27, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  14. Cavna, Michael, "Apologetic 'Draw Muhammad' cartoonist urges 'Draw Al Gore' instead [VIDEO]", 8:38 a.m. update of a 1 a.m. post, April 30, 2010, retrieved same day
  15. Bailey, Rachel (April 30, 2010). "South Park's Censored 200th Episode Prompts "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day"". Paste Magazine (Paste Media Group). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  16. Nurwisah, Ron (April 27, 2010). "'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' artist backs down". National Post (National Post Inc.). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  17. Edwards, Tim (April 26, 2010). "South Park gagging sparks Draw Mohammed Day – Censorship of a South Park episode after Muslim threats has led to calls for an Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". The First Post ( Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  18. Parker, Kathleen, "Freedom of sketch", opinion article, Washington Post, April 27, 2010. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  19. Moynihan, Michael C., "First Annual Everybody Draw Mohammad Day", blog post, April 23, 2010, "Hit & Run" blog, Reason magazine website. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  20. Miskin, Maayana (April 25, 2010). "Censorship Sparks 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day'". Arutz Sheva ( Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  21. Fenig, Ethel C. (April 26, 2010). "Today is 'Draw Mohammed Day'". The American Thinker ( Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  22. "Why is Denver's tax money going to Dallas?". Westword (Denver Westword, LLC). April 29, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  23. Althouse, Ann, "'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' is not a good idea.", blog post, April 24, 2010, "Althouse" blog. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  24. Taranto, James, "Everybody Burn the Flag/If we don't act like inconsiderate jerks, the terrorists will have won!", opinion article, The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  25. Walton, Jeremy F. (April 28, 2010). "Who’s Afraid of the Free Speech Fundamentalists?: Reflections on the South Park Cartoon Controversy". The Revealer (New York University's Center for Religion and Media). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  26. Walsh, Bill (April 28, 2010). "Respect for Religions". Bedford Minuteman (GateHouse Media). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  27. Trzupek, Rich (April 28, 2010). "The 'South Park' Revolution". FrontPage Magazine ( Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  28. Vold, Henrik Brattli, "Alle skal tegne Muhammed", article, NRK (Norsk Rikskringkasting AS—Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation), April 26, 2010, in Norwegian (Selbekk: "og jeg synes kanskje dette er den riktige måten å reagere på – med humor, og også å spre dette på flere, så det ikke bare er noen få som blir sittende med alle truslene "; Rønning: "Jeg mener nok at indignasjonen fra dem som hevder retten til å drive religionskritikk er like viktig som den indignasjonen som kommer fra den muslimske siden. Jeg tror at dette er en holdning som går dypere enn hvorvidt disse tegningene er blasfemiske eller ikke,"), Google translation. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  29. Douthat, Ross (April 26, 2010). "You Can't Portray Muhammad On TV". Talk of the Nation (National Public Radio). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  30. Spillius, Alex (May 1, 2010). "America's disappointing reaction to South Park censorship". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  31. Wei, William (April 30, 2010). "Artist Who Proposed "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" To Protest South Park Censorship Wimps Out". The Business Insider (Business Insider, Inc.). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 

External links[]