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‘South Park’ creators say network cut speech

The producers of "South Park" say Comedy Central removed a speech about intimidation and fear from their show after a radical Muslim group warned they could be killed. The character Kyle's words toward the end of Wednesday's episode were bleeped out. Producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone say the character does not mention the Prophet Muhammad.

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 Parker and 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.

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.

The website RevolutionMuslim.com has since been taken down, but a cached version shows the message to Parker and Stone. The article's author, Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee of New York, said the men "outright insulted" the religious leader.

"We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show," Al-Amrikee wrote. "This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them."

The posting listed the addresses of Comedy Central's New York office and Parker and Stone's California production office. It also linked to a Huffington Post article that described a Colorado retreat owned by the two men.

Poster says group admires Osama bin LadenAl-Amrikee told The Associated Press in a phone call Wednesday that the posting was made to raise awareness of the issue and to see that it does not happen again.

Asked if Parker and Stone should feel threatened by it, he said "they should feel threatened by what they did."

He said he was disappointed that publicity about the posting focused more on the potential danger to the producers but admitted, "I could shoulder some blame" for it.

He said he "can't answer that legally" when asked if his group favored jihad. But he praised bin Laden.

"We look up to him and admire him for the sacrifices he has given for the religion," he said.

Last week's episode, the 200th for the cheeky and often vulgar cartoon, was intended to feature many of the personalities and groups that Parker and Stone insulted during the series' run.

In 2006, Comedy Central banned the men from showing an image of Muhammad on their show. They had intended to comment on the controversy created by a Danish newspaper's publishing of caricatures of the Islamic leader. Muslims consider any physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous.

Instead, "South Park" showed an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President George W. Bush and the American flag.

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