The creators of controversial animated series South Park have become the targets of a veiled death threat after depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a talking bear.
The plot of the April 14 episode involved a fictional Tom Cruise lawsuit against the South Park characters that forced them to produce Muhammad in the flesh. In a nod to the furor that depictions of the prophet stir up, rather than show his face the animators covered the founder of Islam in a bear suit.
The next day Revolution Muslim, a New York-based Islamic organization, suggested on its website that creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker could end up dead because of the broadcast. The warning included contact information for Comedy Central, the show's home network, as well as directing readers to an article about where the creators lived.
"We have to warn [them]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," wrote blogger Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee.
Mr. van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, was killed by an Islamic extremist in 2004 for directing Submission, a short film that was harshly critical of the Muslim community. A picture of Mr. van Gogh's body was included on the site.
Younus Abdullah Muhammad the self-proclaimed emir, or leader, of Revolution Muslim, said they did not call for murder but noted that sharia law permits the killing of anyone who humiliates or mocks the prophet.
"If it happens to them, they deserve it," said Mr. Muhammad. "South Park plays a role in the hedonistic, vice-based society that keeps America ignorant."
The site has since been suspended by its web host, according to Mr. Muhammad, after complaints about the group promoting bodily harm.
In a 2001 episode, South Park also depicted Prophet Muhammad as a flame-throwing ally to Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu and Moses.