Recently a Danish newspaper re-ran previously published political opinion cartoons depicting Mohammad in the form of a terrorist. For example, Mohammad wearing a bomb in his head dressing. There was no reaction recorded last summer when the cartoons were orginally run in newspapers in Europe but this time around all hell has broken loose.
I heard one scholarly person say that the Muslims are so upset because it is against Islam to draw images or publish photos of images of Mohammad. To vent their outrage Muslims are burning buildings and attacking innocent people in countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Iran. The fledgling democracy in Iraq is facing threats from outsiders as further protest of this form of free speech.
The only bit of free speech in the Middle East is the budding free speech in Iraq now. The only voices allowed in the rest of the region are the official government voices. People are not allowed the luxury of speaking what is on their mind in public or in print.
The religion of Islam, a religion of peace we are told, a religion hijacked by extremists we are told, is the banner under which the riots and violence hide. Is one to think being offended by an expression of free speech in a free country is reason enough to burn, maim and kill?
When cartoons are published throughout the world depicting Christians or Jews in unflattering ways, what is the response of the depicted? Opinions are voiced as a response in print or the media but it stops there. No rioting, no flag burning, no death threats. This is democracy.
Websites have sprung up in support of the Danes. Supporters are urged to buy Danish products whenever possible.
Freedom of speech is a basic human right. Those without it understand this principle best.