USC group drawing Muhammad to support freedom of speech - - Columbia, South Carolina |

USC group drawing Muhammad to support freedom of speech

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Students in Columbia are joining people all over the country who are drawing pictures of Islam's prophet Muhammad to protest threats made by radical Muslim groups against people who depict the prophet.

A Facebook page declaring May 20 "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" was established to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of "South Park" for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit earlier this year. Islam prohibits any images of Muhammad.

The information section of the Facebook page says the protest is intended to show extremists "they can't take away our right to freedom of speech by trying to scare us into silence." It says it's not meant "to slander the average Muslim."

The national protest against barriers to free speech is being localized at the University of South Carolina by the Secular Student Alliance-affiliated group 'Pastafarians.'

"Our participation in this event is not to promote blasphemy or religious hatred," said Pastafarians president Axton Crolley. "It is to be able to act on the freedoms guaranteed us by the constitution without fear for our safety afterward."

The group said USC doesn't allow drawing on sidewalks with chalk, so several Pastafarians are printing copies of drawings and posting them all over campus.

"In recognition of Benjamin Franklin's great insight that 'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,' we must peacefully assert and exercise our rights for their safety and longevity, and encourage others to speak up as well," Crolley added.

In reaction to the day of protest, on Wednesday a Pakistani court ordered the government to block Facebook. In Karachi, Pakistan, about 2,000 female students rallied to support Islam and the Facebook ban.

On Thursday, the Pakistani government blocked access to YouTube because of growing "sacrilegious" content on the video-sharing website. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority says in a statement that the government took action after it failed to convince the two websites to remove "derogatory material."

Access to the online encyclopedia site Wikipedia and the photo sharing site Flickr was also restricted Thursday.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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