In case you’ve not been following the news, a Danish newspaper published several cartoons of Muhammad that have enraged many in the Muslim world. Other European papers later reprinted the cartoons.
Now they are doing the usual protest thing, which in the Muslim context means flag and effigy burnings, hopping up and down and chanting, and violent threats being made. And not only threats. They’ve also taken to committing arson against various European embassies.
In other words, many Muslims acting so as to confirm every stereotype that’s out there to the effect that Muslim culture is a vicious, self-centered, savage culture that is incapable of controlling its emotions.
This is a bad thing, and I’m sure that there are many Muslims who are aghast at what the protestors are doing–at the same time that they are offended by the Muhammad cartoons.
I don’t have a problem with them being offended. Muslims consider Muhammad in some way sacred as a prophet of God, and Muslims hold depicting a prophet in art is a form of profanation. Anybody gets offended when what they hold sacred is profaned, especially if it is also held up to ridicule, as happened in the case of at least some of the Danish cartoons (such as depicting Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban, though others cartoons did not depict him in a bad light, they just depicted him).
I don’t believe in giving unnecessary offense to others, particularly when the offense concerns something as deeply felt as the subject of a person’s religion. I know what that feels like, as I’ve had to bear countless insults to Christ and the Christian faith (and ones far worse than anything in the Danish cartoons, none of which depicted God Incarnate hanging in a jar of urine).
But when an offense is committed, I do believe in a proportionate response. Protesting is fine. Boycotting the people involved–like the paper and its advertisers–is fine.
But issuing death threats and destroying property is not.
That behavior is completely unacceptable, and this kind of bullying is the thing which one must stand up to.
After so many countless public angerfests in the Muslim world, it’s easy to dismiss these as just more of the same, but people need to recognize what is going on here, and not just in the Muslim world.