Authorities are looking into the possibility that a recent episode of Los Angeles-based animated comedy series South Park that was deemed insensitive to Islam by some Muslims could have inspired the failed car bomb in New York's Times Square over the weekend.
“This vehicle was close to a Viacom building which owns MTV and Comedy Central,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), told CNN. “And you have the whole issue with South Park, which Islamic terrorists were threatening to have retribution for.”
New York police commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Sunday that investigators haven't ruled out the possibility Viacom, a couple blocks from the car bomb, was a target because of the animated comedy episode. “We certainly wouldn't rule it out,” Kelly said.
Islam prohibits the depiction of its holiest prophet, Muhammad. But South Park is known for stomping over sacred ground. For its 200th episode earlier this month, the show depicted the prophet Muhammad as someone whose voice emanated from a U-Haul trailer; later, the character is shown dressed in a bear costume.
A representative of the group Revolution Muslim warned the producers that they could end up dead like a Dutch filmmaker who was killed in 2004 after he released a film critical of the way women are treated in some corners of Muslim society.
Interestingly, the South Park Studios site states that episode is not available to view online, as most of its shows are: “Due to preexisting contractual obligations, we cannon stream this episode until 05.15.10.” Revolution Muslim later denied any involvement in the Times Square bombing attempt.
According to The New York Times, a subsequent episode was self-censored by the show's producers and then censored again by the network, ostensibly over concerns about criticism from Muslims over its continued use of Muhammad as a presence on the program. “After we delivered the show, and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode,” the producers said on their .
South Park Studios is based in Los Angeles, and the Viacom subsidiary that runs its home channel of Comedy Central, MTV Networks, is based in Santa Monica. Santa Monica police, however, told Fox 11 News that it has received no threats against that location.
Authorities looking into the Saturday bombing attempt have discounted a claim-of-responsibility by the Pakistani Taliban; Investigators are now focusing on a man of about 40 years of age who was seen walking around the Nissan Pathfinder that was rigged to create a fireball.