Muslims warn South Park after Mohammed joke

Apr 21, 2010
Tim Edwards

Trey Parker and Matt Stone warned of grisly death after depicting Mohammed in a bear suit

A US Muslim website has warned the creators of South Park they face death after once again depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed in an episode last week.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone celebrated the 200th episode of South Park with a storyline in which the actor Tom Cruise launches a class lawsuit against the animation’s townsfolk, uniting every celebrity that has ever been insulted by the cartoon.

During the episode, Cruise agrees not to pursue his lawsuit if the South Park characters can hand Mohammed over to him. It transpires Cruise and the other celebrities, who include Bono, the Pope, Mel Gibson, and George Lucas leading a ball-gagged Harrison Ford on a leash, only want Mohammed for his "goo", which they believe will lend them invulnerability to public ridicule. Mohammed eventually appears, but dressed in a bear suit.

The "goo" is a reference to the invulnerability enjoyed by Mohammed since the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a caricature of Mohammed in 2005 and attracted global Muslim anger and death threats. Many media outlets now refuse to allow the depiction of the Muslim prophet, who is therefore impervious to criticism.

In 2006, Parker and Stone drew attention to the double-standards applied by TV execs at their own network, Comedy Central, by showing a scene in which Jesus defecates on George Bush and the American flag – after the network had forbidden them from depicting Mohammed. This despite the fact that the prophet had appeared in a 2001 episode and attracted zero complaints.

On Sunday, a radical Islamic website called posted a warning to Stone and Parker, saying: "They will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them." The statement also included the New York address of Comedy Central.

Van Gogh was a Dutch director who made a documentary that criticised the treatment of women in Islam. He was shot dead and nearly decapitated in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist in 2004.

But Stone and Parker were expecting this kind of reaction. In an interview with last week (above) before the 200th episode was aired – and before the warning on - Parker was asked whether he was worried about Muslim extremists. He replied: "We'd be so hypocritical against our own thoughts, if we said, 'Okay, well let's not make fun of them because they might hurt us. Okay, we'll rip on the Catholics because they won't hurt us, but we won't rip on [Muslims] because they might hurt us.'"

Stone added: "Something that was OK is now not OK, and that's just fucked up."

Sign up for our daily newsletter