‘South Park’ cuts image of Mohammed after threat

Stephen James Johnson

From the Associated Press.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The latest episode of satirical cartoon show “South Park” has been censored after a radical Muslim group threatened the show’s creators for their depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.

A spokesman for the Comedy Central television channel confirmed to AFP that the network had added a series of audio bleeps to the episode broadcast late Wednesday, which effectively removed all references to Prophet Mohammed.

“I can confirm that Comedy Central added additional audio bleeps after the cut of the episode was delivered by the producers,” the spokesman said.

Comedy Central would not confirm that the changes were linked to statements made by the New York-based Revolution Muslim group earlier this week.

The extremist group said South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker risked the same fate as slain Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam in 2004.

Revolution Muslim posted the address of Stone and Parker’s Los Angeles production offices, but denied they were encouraging violence.

“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show,” the group said.

A spokesman for the group denied the statement was an incitement.

“Revolution Muslim only wants those offended to be able to voice their opposition by letters to the show’s creators,” a spokesman told CNN.

The Muslim group’s statement followed the April 14 episode of “South Park,” where the Prophet Mohammed appeared wearing a bear mascot costume in order to avoid his image being shown.

“South Park,” which follows the surreal and often profane adventures of four schoolchildren in a fictitious Colorado town, has regularly lampooned religions during its 13 years on the air.

Atlantic Online blogger Andrew Sullivan accused Comedy Central of “wussing out” by censoring Wednesday’s episode.

“‘South Park’ has long had Jesus and Satan, they have ridiculed Mormonism, eviscerated Scientology, mocked Catholicism and showed the Buddha actually doing lines of coke,” Sullivan noted.

“None of the adherents of these other faiths have threatened to kill Matt and Trey, but, of course, some Sunni Islamists did so. So what does Comedy Central do? They wussed out even further.”

Cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in Scandinavian media outlets in recent years have led to violence and plots to murder those responsible.

In 2005, Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published 12 drawings focused on Islam, several of which were seen as linking the religion and the Prophet Mohammed to modern terrorism and suicide bombings.

The cartoons led to angry protests by Muslims worldwide, leaving dozens of people dead and causing major damage to Danish embassies and other facilities.