The Americas

 “To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.” 

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

United States                                                                 

Molly Norris - life threatened and forced into hiding, 2010    

(Photograph of Ms. Norris withheld for her safety.)                          

Summary of incident:

In April 2010 American cartoonist Molly Norris was threatened with death by Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki after Molly created a poster and website announcing an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."  The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has helped her create a new identity in order to protect her from what is believed to be "a very serious threat" on her life.  


Details of incident:

In early April 2010 Molly created a website and poster both titled, "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day."  Both the website and the poster were created by Molly in protest to the death threats made against Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, the animated comedy television program featured on Comedy Central.  Parker and Stone had created two consecutive episodes of South Park featuring a Mohammad storyline that ridicules those who try to silence criticism with intimidation.  Fearing an attack, Comedy Central censored the second episode.  In protest to this censorship Molly declared May 20, 2010, to be the first annual "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day."  She urged everyone to, "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."  She wrote that the protest was, "Sponsored by Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor or CACAH [pronounced ca-ca]."  Yemeni-American cleric Al-Awlaki quickly responded by condemning Molly Norris and other cartoonists including Lars Vilks and Kurt Westergaard.  In the English-language Al Qaeda magazine Inspire, Al-Awlaki wrote that Molly is a "prime target" for execution and that her "proper abode is hellfire."  Molly has since posted a YouTube video in which she apologized to "everyone of the Muslim faith who has or will be offended" by her cartoon and said she supported calling off the "Everyone Draw Mohammad Day."

Actions taken by CRNI:
Our efforts on behalf of Molly Norris can not be publicized at this time.     



Mario Robles Patiño - assaulted, life threatened and lives of family members threatened, 2009

Summary of incident:

Mario was beaten and his life was threatened following the publishing of cartoons in the newspaper Noticias Voz e Imagen in Oaxacacritical, Oaxaca.  The cartoons criticized the local Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the PRI governor of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. 

Details of incident:

On April 19, 2009, Mexican editorial cartoonist Mario Robles Patiño, who was working for the Oaxacan newspaper Noticias Voz e Imagen (the News) was assaulted for cartoons he drew that criticized Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and the local Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).  Robles was repeatedly kicked by Indalesio Cruz Alcazar and his son Isalesis Cruz, both members of the PRI.  The assault left visible scars including a scar across Mario's forehead.  Immediately after the assault, Mario's assailants threatened to kill him and his family if he continued to criticize Governor Ruiz or the local ruling PRI party.  Despite the assault and the death threats, Mario continued to voice his opinions through his work.   
Once the facts of the assault were confirmed by the media and human rights officials, Dr. Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of Article 19 (a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of expression) called upon the PRI to stop the intimidation by some of its party members.  In his remarks, Dr. Callamard noted, "Cartoons serve a particular purpose in terms of political commentary.  They are particularly influential because an image can often be more effective in making an impression than words.  This is therefore a unique but particularly relevant form of social commentary that needs to be protected under the right of freedom of expression."
There is no way for Mario to know for certain which of his many cartoons that criticized the local government led to the assault.  But he's convinced that the cartoon (shown here) that refers to the events of October 2nd, 1968, triggered the assault.  On October 2nd, 1968, government troops and police perpetrated a mass killing of peaceful protesters.  To this day, no one has been held responsible for one of the bloodiest episodes in modern Mexican history.  In southern Mexico in 2006, an unprecedented social movement was sparked by a crackdown on a schoolteachers' strike.  A large and diverse number of groups and individuals unhappy with the local administration  demanded social and economic reforms, and the resignation of the Oaxacan governor.  The protesters chanted the well-known slogan "Don't forget October 2nd."  On June 14th, the Oaxacan government attempted to forcefully shut down the protests.  In response, Mario drew the cartoon depicting Governor Ruiz stating that HE has not forgotten October 2nd and that perhaps this anesthetic (i.e. a thorough crushing of those who criticize him) will remind THEM of what happened on that date.
Actions taken by CRNI:
Upon learning of the assault, CRNI established a regular line of communication with Mario.  After determining the level of threat to Mario, CRNI publicized his story to the media and other human rights organizations.  To shine a protective spotlight on Mario, we named him our 2009 recipient of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning.  CRNI brought him to an award ceremony in Seattle, Washington.  Mario was honored with the Courage Award on July 3, 2009.  CRNI also arranged an interview with Voice of America, Mexico Division.  Click on Mario VOA interview to read a summary of Mario's interview with Rosalba Ruiz.  To read an English translation of that summary click on Mario VOA interview/English translation.