OK so there's a big furore over some cartoons that appeared in a Danish newspaper in September. The cartoons featured the Prophet Mohammed, and people got quite worked up about it so I decided to search around and figure out what all the fuss was about. Thus far I have the following:
The Danes' point of view:
"It's a cartoon, it's funny. Wasn't meant to offend, it's our freedom of speech to say what we want, we make fun of all the other religious figures as well and if you don't like it, don't read it."Several muslim points of view:
"Well the cartoons were in poor taste but the whole country shouldn't be penalised for what one newspaper published. It's allowed according to the law and it generates discussion so what's the big deal?"
"Depiction of the image of the Prophet is not allowed because it may lead to deification of the messenger, rather than the lawmaker (as has happened in other religions)."
"The cartoons themselves are not funny as they depict various incorrect stereotypes of Islam."
"It is not correct to say that this is a freedom of the press issue. The newspaper is indulging in hatemongering, and we've had enough vilification of the religion and its' followers for the past few years. Anyway nobody condones nazi propaganda so why is this freedom of the press?"
Interesting. I think both sides have a point. I think publication of the cartoons was in poor taste as it exacerbates an already strained relationship in many of the european countries between the majority and minority communities. The thing is that religious criticism hits people right in the guts and many have a visceral reaction to criticism of their beliefs. It's ok to criticise if you yourself are part of the religion, but most people don't take well to outsiders doing the criticism. That holds for any religion as far as I know, except the one that I'm inventing (very easy religion, be nice to everyone / everything, grow your hair, and don't believe anything until you've proven it :), I expect to have a billion followers on the planet Warrier in 2000 years.
I don't think it's right for some countries to recall their ambassadors and boycott goods made in Denmark just because one of their newspapers printed something that offends. It's ok according to their laws. I mean what would the Saudis do if people stopped buying their oil because women are not allowed to drive there or something. Plain silliness, but I don't think that the cheese farmers had anything to do with insensitive cartoons. Also the violence and so on is not on. Nobody's faith in what the flat earth society had to say a few thousand years ago about how the world works will be shaken by a few cartoons. Neither will any supreme creator get angry about cartoons and deny entry to anyone to anywhere, what kind of a supreme being can't take a joke? Why would the supreme being even invent jokes if s(he) can't take them?
So, in summary, it was plain silly to publish the stuff, but once published, it was better off ignored or brushed off with a smile, and maybe some cartooning of the publishers involved in the blasphemy - eye for an eye and all that.