By Joshua Rhett Miller- FOXNews.com
The original “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” Facebook page — with more than 80,000 followers — vanished briefly from the website Thursday, causing some users to accuse the social networking giant of censorship before the controversial page reappeared on the site.
Facebook officials said a “small technical issue” prevented users from accessing the page for a “very short period” of time.
“Once alerted to the problem, we resolved it as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others.”
The creator of a sister page dedicated to the campaign, meanwhile, said she has received roughly 1,500 images of the Prophet Muhammad via e-mail or through her page, which had nearly 9,000 followers as of early Thursday, the unofficial day for the “Draw Muhammad” protest.
Mimi Sulpovar said she’s received numerous death threats since she started the page on April 22 to protest what she calls the “manifestation of gradual silencing and subjugation” of free speech rights in the name of political correctness.
“There are death threats, but none of them are specific,” she said. “Nobody knows where I live or how to find me.”
Sulpovar said she will consider reporting the threats to local law enforcement authorities if they become more detailed.
“It’s generalized, like ‘We’re going to find you and kill you’ sort of thing,” she said. “At this point, it’s like throwing death threats to the moon.”
Sulpovar said traffic to her page had increased so much that she was having trouble moderating the comments.
“I can’t keep up anymore,” she said. “The activity on the site now is crazy.”
The brief disappearance of the original page Thursday morning led users to create a “back up” group page. While some users of the new page posted images of Muhammad as a caped superhero and atop a camel named “George Clooney,” others took out their anger at Facebook, accusing it of censorship.
“It’s pathetic that Facebook have taken the other page down!” one posting read. “We need to do something REALLY epic now to show them that censoring our freedom of speech is UNACCEPTABLE!”
Other users said they weren’t surprised that it was gone, given the “messages of hate” found there.
“I am so very disappointed in Facebook, but I am not surprised given the messages of hate that appeared on both sides on this wall,” one posting read. “Perhaps if we try to keep it clean this time, the page can survive?”
The online campaign that began as a cartoonist’s call to action against censorship — an open invitation to submit caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — also led to a court order in Pakistan to temporarily block parts of the website, and a call for a boycott of Facebook to protest what Muslims believe is blasphemy.
A company spokeswoman told FoxNews.com on Wednesday that Facebook was “disappointed” by a Pakistani court’s decision to block some of the pages.
“We are very disappointed with the Pakistani Courts’ decision to block Facebook without warning, and suspect our users there feel the same way,” the statement read. “We are analyzing the situation and the legal considerations, and will take appropriate action, which may include making this content inaccessible to users in Pakistan.”
“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” began last month as the brainchild of a Seattle-based cartoonist named Molly Norris, who said she was appalled by Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of “South Park” that depicted Muhammad in a bear costume.
As a way to protest the network’s decision — which came after an Islamic extremist website warned of retaliation against the show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker — Norris declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” — and her efforts quickly went viral, spawning several Facebook pages with thousands of followers dedicated to the event.
They also prompted a “protest” movement by thousands of other Facebook users opposed to it. As of early Thursday, more than 82,000 Facebook users associated themselves to the original page dedicated to the event, and Sulpovar’s page was “liked” by more than 9,000 users. More than 96,000 users, meanwhile, have joined a Facebook page opposing it.
“We tried our level best to have a healthy discussion on this page about this controversial topic with other non-muslims on this page, but some of them were bent upon abusing Islam and Our beloved Prophet (SAW),” one posting read on the AGAINST ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ Facebook page. “So we are now banning anyone who is abusing our prophet on this page and in future anyone who will abuse on [this] page will be shown zero tolerance.”
Other members of the group against the campaign asked users to boycott Facebook on Thursday and to post a graphic in their status update urging others to do the same.
One posting read, “IF THESE PAGES ARE NOT BANNED, WE WILL BOYCOTT FACEBOOK!!!”