South Park made jokes about the Prophet Muhammad. An Islamic group, Revolution Muslim, retorted with thinly veiled threats, and the show was censored. Fans were outraged — and they seem to have fought back by mocking the group's website.
Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are forbidden in some interpretations of Islam. Extreme adherents of the faith have a long history of threatening violence when they feel their faith is being mocked. So when South Park skirted the rule by showing him in a bear costume, and dressed as Santa Claus, a Brooklyn-based Islamic group were enraged.
Revolution Muslim said that the show had "outright insulted" Muhammad, and posted addresses for South Park and Comedy Central alongside a picture of the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh lying dead, stabbed and shot. Van Gogh was murdered for making a documentary film about the abuse of women in some Islamic countries.
"We have to warn Matt and Trey," said the post, written by a member named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, of the show's creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, "that what they are doing is stupid and 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."
Comedy Central censored the next episode — blocking out any non-depictions of Muhammad, bleeping any mentions and even, paradoxically, censoring a speech about free speech and censorship. Jon Stewart was not happy.
UPDATED: Now Younus Abdullah Mohammed, of Revolution Muslim, has confirmed to us that hackers briefly redirected the group's website to revolutionislam.com, a site that hosts the image above — a cartoon depiction of the Prophet, originally published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.
"But it was pointless," said Mohammed of the brief prank. "Our website is down with the amount of traffic now anyway. If these hackers want to show their support for the filth and trash that is America then that is fine by us. We already know the outcome as Muslims."
That outcome? "Islam will take over the world."
Mohammed also directed us to a longer version of the post about South Park on their blog, and added that he felt the press coverage of the scandal was unfair. "It was typical of the mainstream media. It was senseless," he said, "they never cover any of the other crimes against Islam we write about."
Most Americans, he said, are "dumbed down, stupid and pathetic. They're worried more about missing their favourite TV show than they are about the world."
He stands by his group's prediction of violence against the South Park creators. "It's very justifiable to act violently against Western aggression," said Mohammed, who added that his group did not "condone or condemn" terrorist acts against Americans. "We did not start the war on September the 11th 2001. You started the war."
Mohammed implied that he has previously had some contact with the FBI regarding a trip to an Islamic country, but he would not give specific details of the incident. "It is American oppression," he said. But, he added, we probably wouldn't understand such issues as we are "Darwinist faggots who are as despicable as the rest, walking around eating your Triscuits."