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Man pleads guilty to South Park terror threat

Zachary Chesser admits to encouraging attacks on cartoonists Trey Parker and Matt Stone over their depictions of Islam.

Trey Parker (left) and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park:
Trey Parker (left) and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park:
Image: Guy Levy/EMPICS Entertainment

A VIRGINIA MAN has pleaded guilty to posting online death threats to the creators of South Park, and encouraging attacks against them, for their cartoon’s portrayal of the prophet Muhammad.

Zachary Chesser (20) also admitted to be a member of al-Shabab, a Somalian terror group linked to al-Qaeda.

Chesser had been charged with posting details of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s houses in Colorado, and advocating attacks on the men and their homes in protest at the show’s controversial 200th episode.

The BBC says he had also told followers to leave fake bombs in the vicinity, in order to “desensitise” police into ignoring a real bomb when one was left.

The two-part episode – named 200 and 201 – dealt with the desire of Hollywood celebrities to be considered immune from public debate, in the same way that the Muslim prophet Muhammad is considered.

In their quest to gain such immunity, they demand to see Muhammad to ask his advice on fending off negative commentary. The prophet, who for the purposes of the plot cannot be depicted on screen, is dressed in a bear costume (a reference to the arrest of a British teacher in Sudan in 2007) in order to guard his identity as he walks through South Park.

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The episode was a riff on a previous two-part episode in which the prophet was depicted on a fictional episode of Family Guy, which (in the show’s canon) opted to broadcast the image – which transpired to be completely benign. In real life, however, the show’s broadcaster Comedy Central refused to air the scene.

Islamic law is generally interpreted to forbid any visual depictions or interpretations of the Holy Prophet.

Chesser faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on February 25.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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