Comic Riffs reported a week ago that Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist whose poster art spawned the recent "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," has had an execution hit ordered against her -- one that the FBI reportedly is treating as a "very serious threat."
The Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki -- arguably the highest-profile English-speaking supporter of violent jihad -- said that Norris is a "prime target" for execution and that her "proper abode is hellfire." Al-Awlaki, 39, writing in the new English-language Al Qaeda magazine that calls itself "Inspire," condemned nine people -- including several European illustrators for "blasphemous caricatures" of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
In Comic Riffs' ongoing discussions with cartoonists and other artists about religious depictions in their work, today we talk briefly with independent cartoonist Sepideh Anjomrooz [pictured right], a Muslim cartoonist who lives in Iran. Given her faith, her nationality and her experience, we posed a few questions to seek her insights. Here are her thoughts:
MICHAEL CAVNA: So what do you think of cartoonists depicting the prophets of various faiths, be it Muhammad or Moses?
SEPIDEH ANJOMROOZ: It's better we learn to respect formal religions, even respect beliefs that have been accepted by many more of people in the world, such as Buddhism. And we must accept it as a law.
I saw many cartoons about the holy prophets in [an] international cartoon contest book [that] didn't make any problem for cartoonists, [prophets] such as Noah, Moses ... but they aren't offensive. And I like them.
MC: As a cartoonist, have you ever rendered Muhammad -- or have you considered doing so?
SA: I've never draw any cartoon about "MUHAMMAD" as the Holy prophet of Islam. And I don't think about this theme.
MC: If you were a North American newspaper editor, would you republish such work as Lars Vilks's depictions of Muhammad?
SA: I would not republish them, because, I think, these cartoons inflame [regions of the world] and [spark] extremists.
MC: So where do you yourself draw the line, as it were?
SA: We must know [Iran's imposed] redlines, but it depends on the location of the redline for everyone. ... Unfortunately, wrong policies create pessimism. [But] certainly, anti-Islam cartoons are not the best way to control the extremism.