Comedy Central's "South Park" included a representation of the Prophet Muhammad as a character this week despite a radical Muslim group's warning that its producers could be killed.
Muhammad appeared on Wednesday night's episode of the cartoon with his body obscured by a black box, since Muslims consider a physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous. Last week, the character was believed to be disguised in a bear costume. When that same costume was removed this week, Santa Claus appeared.
The bear costume had angered the New York-based group Revolution Muslim, which posted a message on its website saying that producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone had insulted their prophet.
The message included a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a movie about a woman who rejected Muhammad's teachings. The message said the "South Park" producers would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh" for airing the show.
The posting included Comedy Central's New York address, as well as the address for Parker and Stone's California production studio.
Parker and Stone are known for waiting until the last minute before turning in fresh episodes. This week's episode contained no direct reference to the warning, although one inside joke could be interpreted as one.
During one scene, a mechanized Barbara Streisand robot is seen stomping through the town on a path of destruction. One voice is heard to say, "they've destroyed La Casa Bonita!"
"La Casa Bonita" is the name of Parker and Stone's production facility.
Comedy Central also censored 35 seconds' worth of a conversation toward the end of the show between the characters Stan, Jesus Christ and Santa Claus. The network wouldn't say Thursday whether this contained any reference to the warning.
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