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‘South Park’ producers say network cut fear speech

NEW YORK (AP) — 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.

The group Revolution Muslim had complained that ‘South Park’ had insulted their prophet by depicting him in a bear costume in last week’s episode. The group didn’t explicitly threaten the producers but warned they could wind up like a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist. The group printed Stone and Parker’s work address on its website.

More than 30 seconds’ worth of dialogue were covered up in the episode.

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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Comedy Central is a unit of Viacom Inc.