Interesting post on the english language Free West weblog sponsored by Die Welt. The authors , including an Iranian refugee and professor at a German university, note the irony in fundamentalists Islam's outrage at cartoons that depict Mohammed in just the way that the fundamentalists claim he must be understood:
While in Iraq Muslims blow themselves up along with random passing Muslims almost daily in the name of their faith and of the Prophet (sometimes proudly displaying the images), while suicide bombers film farewell messages justifying their actions based on the words and deeds of the Prophet, while videos are circulated showing the decapitation of innocent victims to the shouts of ‘God is great and Mohammed is His Final Prophet’ by their executioners, while Muslim fighters in Darfur exterminate entire Muslim peoples - remember this is real people, real blood and real suffering - it seems as if the world of Islam only raises its voice when a handful of obscure artists have the audacity to sketch pictures of the Prophet in a way that in fact represents what the fundamentalists claim about Him: that the Prophet actually approves of violence and the faithful must kill the heathen.
According to the authors, this is not so much a perversion of Islam as part of its traditional essence:
The incomprehension that greeted the publication of the Danish cartoons, and the failure to understand the judicial framework that operates in Western states reveals once again that there is no division between church and state for Muslims. It has never existed in the principal religious and social codes of traditional Islam. The Prophet was an autocrat, in both theological and secular affairs, and dissidence was by definition an implied derogation of the religious Message and the Prophet’s secular leadership. As a revolutionary and founder of an empire, Mohammed (inasmuch as he is a historical figure, which remains unclear due to the absence of historical sources and the ban on archeological excavations in Saudi Arabia) was wary of conspirators, critics, satirists and, like a Khomeinist avant la lettre, He dealt - with Allah’s invariable approval - ruthlessly with His opponents.
Most Muslims, however, have moved away from this understanding of what Islam requires and Islamofascists are struggling to regain ascendancy, to ""transform this huge, yet internally diverse mass of people into an Ummah [a united Islam] capable of gaining supremacy over the world through Jihad."
This suggests that the Islam that explodes in violence over a few cartoons is not the Islam that we must accommodate, but a faction within Islam that must be defeated. Our duty is not to placate it:
What we are witnessing in the Arab Islamic world is a long drawn-out struggle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim community, at the moment manipulated by the secular despots of Syria, feeling threatened, and mainly by Iran, creating time to develop its own nuclear weapon. There is little the West can do except preserve its sovereignty and protect its freedoms and judicial institutions - whatever cost that may entail - and never to succumb to fundamentalist blackmail.