This year, May 20 was “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” in protest of widespread censorship and threats to artists who draw images of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet. The event was inspired by threats against the creators of the animated television show South Park over a depiction of Mohammed, and subsequent censorship by the Comedy Central network which, on the other hand, has been criticized for an anti-Semitic show and video game.
The event passed smoothly despite drawing controversy, fears of results, and in the Moslem world--more censorship .
However, bloggers, professional cartoonists, and others published a variety of drawings, including a “connect the dots” Mohammed, and a “Where's Waldo?” style Mohammed.
Among those who declined to participate was Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist whose “I'm Mohammed” cartoon sparked the event. Norris explained that she was interested in free speech, but did not wish to cause offense. “Fight for the right to draw Mohammed, then decline doing so,” she told the Washington Post.
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists decided not to back the event, out of concern that it could be co-opted by those seeking to offend, and not only to defend free speech.
The event was organized primarily on the Facebook social networking site, where a number of users created pages both supporting and opposing it. Pakistan responded to the event by blocking access to Facebook, YouTube, and other sites over “sacrilegious content”; it is unclear how long the ban will continue.
Facebook said it would consider making pages in support of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day inaccessible in Pakistan.
In an interview with the Boing Boing website given prior to the threats, censorship, and calls to draw Mohammed, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone explained why they chose to draw attention to censorship of depictions of Mohammed. “If everyone would have just printed the cartoons [of Mohammed], everyone would rally together,” said Stone. Now, he said, a single cartoonist who drew Mohammed “has to be in hiding because... everyone left him out to dry.”