The publication of 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed by the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten last October and their republication by the Norwegian daily Dagbladet last week, has been met by a chorus of indignation from the Muslim world, a boycott of Danish goods throughout the Middle East, demonstrations in cities throughout the region, the withdrawal of ambassadors from Copenhagen by Saudi Arabia and Libya, and the occupation by armed men of the offices of the European Union in Gaza.
The cartoons were undoubtedly tasteless, and in fact pointless if the intention was not to provoke a reaction. But cartoons that convey a message far more critical of Islam appear daily in the Western press. The offence committed by the Danes was not that the cartoons ridiculed or insulted Islam, but that they depicted the figure of the Prophet. The reaction to the cartoons was not entirely unexpected, even by the cartoonists themselves. Over-reaction is now the norm in Islamic society. IHEU and other NGOs have seen for ourselves something of this tendency at the UN Human Rights Commission.