Since there have been several "Islam is crazy" threads popping up I thought I might address the whole cartoon issue here. From my view, this whole ordeal is irrational from both sides.
The danish press have definitely crossed a line by resorting to cheap, prejudiced and inflammatory material that would have not been published had it been derogatory towards jews or christians. Freedom of press is a poor excuse: their execution was distasteful and depended more on shock value than an actual meaningful purpose. With free speech comes responsibility and free speech is not an absolute. From what I understand, after an initial uproar following the original publication, major newspaper throughout Europe republished the cartoons simultaneously on February 1, 2006. The publishing of these cartoons, for no other reason than that the press could legally do so, is gratuitous. Imagine the NY Times and the Washington Post republishing anti-semitic cartoons from an obscure California newspaper just because.
As for the reaction; it's grossly exaggerated. In reading the newspapers this morning I have to say I'm scratching my head at some of the things going on. I'm ashamed of the people who are unable to handle this in a rational and civil way. The group or institution that allowed the publishing of these caricatures should be held responsible. Setting fire to embassies and attacking people who have no role in the situation is wrong. The often repeated scenes of violence in the media is not and should not be a reflection of the average Muslim. In many of the instances of violence, peaceful demonstrators were insighted by extremists.
When I first saw the cartoons I was disgusted. The problem was not the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, on which Muslim opinion is not even unanimous. Rather, these cartoons portrayed a cherished religious figure in Islam inviting people to terrorism and suicide bombings. Many Muslims felt they were being demonized and targeted for attack. Put this in the context of the growing tensions between many Muslim and Western Countries and you get an idea of where this uproar stems from.
In the end, Western rhetoric notwithstanding, Islam is not some stateless entity with mindless hatred for non-Muslim societies. I hope you guys understand that.
In concluding this rant, I'll leave you guys with a quote: "Understand before you condemn and do not condemn before you understand"--Dave Chappelle