The Danish Cartoons a Secular View
There has been a lot said about the Muslim response to the cartoons. But one also needs to point out that the cartoons as published were insulting to all Arabs people; Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Atheist.
The image of Mohammed in the cartoons is used to represent the whole Islamic religion - all Muslims. As people from a region where Islam was born it is our heritage. A hertage of which to be proud - not ashamed.
Let me break the cartoons down in simple terms (a quick google search will net a picture of the cartoons if you want to know what I mean):
The one with the bomb on Mohammed's head is saying very simplisticly that sum total of the whole practice and belief of Islam is suicide bombing. It is not just the image of Mohammed that is on the bomb but the symbolic phrase of Islam - "There is no god but Allah". Or to put the message even more simply: "each and every Muslim is a suicide bomber".
The cartoon of an angry man with a knife and two veiled women says - believe in Moahmmed and you believe in killing and wife bashing. The man in the middle is Muhammed. The image is a shallow joke on two levels. On one it compares the stereotyped Muslim women who are covered except for the eyes with the way Muslims dont allow the image of Muhammed's face (note the eyes are covered). On the second this is no peaceful Mohammed but an angry psychopath. Wanting to convert you by the sword and also threatening the women to keep in line.
The devil horns cartoon says simply all Islam is evil.
The sum total of the images says to me "look at the backward Muslims - they are no more than wife-bashing, suicide bombing, devils".
My own opinion is that some of the cartoons are the work of old-fasioned European racists. Having been denied the "right" to bait Jews, they turned their attention to Muslims. And the message of these cartoons amounts to not much more. Generally the use of a sterotyped image to symbolise a racist message. Be it the Uncle Tom negro to represent all blacks or the image of a Hecedic Jew to represent all Jews. Muslims provide an interesting problem to racists - there is not one visual kind to stereotype. So they found Mohammed as a useful image. And, hey, they can get what Lenin would call 'useful idiots' to jump around claiming freedom of speech on their behalf.
There are issues of freedom of speech here but this is the freedom of the racist to distribute hateful propoganda that incites hate and violence against a minority in Europe.
Shame on those anti-fascists who still promote these cartoons and other similar cartoons thinking they are defending free speech.
Bill Clinton got it right, Europe is replacing the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice.