it’s just a picture
Denmark is under virtual siege over some Islamophobic cartoons published in a newspaper. We expect Religion to have no sense of proportion, but what about boundaries? Ask a Muslim cleric, and he (never she) will say that Islam is destined to rule the world, that it can not tolerate differing opinions on matters of religion. It is a monoculture, and does not understand pluralism or multi-culturalism, the idea that a different viewpoint can be as valid and correct as their own.
The Islamic taboo against images of Prophets (Mohammed, Jesus, Abraham etc.) is one of those cultural things that I don’t get at a basic level, but have little trouble working around. I went to Dubai a couple of years ago, quite prepared to do without pork or alcohol, but with so many Westerners there there were no real restrictions. I think freedom of speech is fundamental, and central to democracy, but that doesn’t mean you ought to rub peoples’ faces in it for the sake of selling newspapers (i.e. to make money). I walk this same tightrope every day, since some of my views would offend each person I meet in a different way. Religion is only one facet.
Neither is it acceptable to threaten people based on what they say alone – that is an attack on the freedom of speech of non-Muslims, people that Islam has no jurisdiction over. Tolerance works both ways – Muslims must respect the freedom of the press, as it exists in Denmark (a non-Islamic state).
Or to put it another way: the Prophet Mohammed is revered as a historical figure, with little direct relevance to the modern world I live in. To offend his memory, or not, is meaningless to me – but I’m a meritocrat, and judge people by their actions, what they do. Talk is cheap, whether it’s my blog, a politician’s promise, or a cartoon in a newspaper.