JAKARTA - Hard-line Muslims stormed a building housing the Danish Embassy in Indonesia on Friday and burned the Danish flag as Islamic outrage over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad spread to Asia.
Protests also erupted in Malaysia, where fundamentalist Muslims shouted, "Destroy our enemies!" at a rally outside the Danish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where about 500 Muslims rallied to protest the publication of the cartoons.
"The whole Muslim world is shocked and outraged," Mohiuddin Ahmed, a leader of the hard-line Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Bangladesh, told supporters at the Dhaka rally.
The Pakistani Parliament unanimously passed a resolution Friday condemning the cartoons and the Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, also expressed outrage, saying their publication could not be justified as freedom of expression.
As offended as all of these people may be, there is no turning back now. If any media outlet that has taken this stand and either printed or shown these cartoons, backtracks now, there will be no end to the pressure and attacks on free speech as we know it, today. Not only will Muslims be emboldened to contest each and every criticism leveled at it or any of its followers; any other religion/belief system can and will be able to exert pressure. And, they will do it with the expectation that they will be able to censor, whatever they deem offensive whether it's true or not.
Over at Always On Watch and at Liberty and Culture there is more coverage and thoughts about this situation. (Don't let the size of Jason's post fool you, read the comments for the meat of the debate)
In fact, most of the blogosphere and the MSM there has been much debate about this subject, whether the outlets and blogs have actually published the cartoons, or not. Why? Because no matter how offensive something may seem to a given group, the right to freely express oneself is at stake here. Freedom of speech is the one thing that defines whether a society is truly free, or not. Take that away and you have the equivalent of a Stalinist, Maoist, Fascist, Communist, form of political system that oppresses and strips the people of the pursuits of life, liberty, and prosperity.
Now before I go any further, I want to repost one comment I made on Jason's site, with some additional emphasis in italics:
I do not condone trying to offend anyone, but the freedom of expression must at any and all costs, be protected.
I seem to remember some kind controversial art display at a museum in NYC, where an image of the virgin Mary had dung all over it. (Or something like that.)
Anyway, there was an outcry for a short while. I am sure that many Catholics as well as many non-Catholic Christians were very much offended. They said their piece about what they thought of it, as was their right. But unless I missed something, no one threatened to bomb the art gallery.
That said, I do not think it is wise to inflame these already rabid dogs, especially at this point in time, just for the hell of it. I do not think it is particularly wise to do it just because you can. But make no mistake, the right to freely express oneself is a right that should never be infringed on, in any way.
If Muslims would do in the case of these cartoons, what many Christians did, when that art display came out; if they would simply ignore it, it would go away much faster. No one, I repeat, no one can offend you without your permission.
How did the art display offend the virgin Mary? It didn't. She's dead and even if she were alive, it would not have hurt much of anything , except her maybe her feelings. How did it hurt me? It didn't. It did not shake my faith, one iota. I'll simply let God judge the matter, as He sees fit.
But what did offend me, was the fact that it was displayed in a gallery that receives government funds. I don't think the government should be in the arts business, anyway. Remember, since Bush became President, the homeless suddenly reappeared after eight years of bliss under Clinton. Couldn't that money used to subsidize "shitty" art, be better used to feed the starving masses that Bush has created?
Bottom line here, Muslims should understand that the bigger stink they make about this, the bigger it will become. The more they attempt to censor, the more we that cherish freedom of speech, will dig in and fight.
I also would admonish Muslims, that "if you really want to stop this kind of stuff, you should set an example and not publish the crap you publish about Christians and Jews. Because it is just as offensive to them, as these cartoons are to you. But you do not police yourselves, so how can you expect the same courtesy here?"
In short, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If Muslims or any other religious group insists on publishing hateful and offensive material about Jews, Christians, or any other religious group, they must expect that at some point others will do the same with their belief system.
Free speech works both ways. We cannot have one group dictating to the others, what they can print, say, and think; all the while saying and doing whatever they want, because somehow their way is far greater and should somehow be elevated above the rest. (SEE: Hypocrisy)
Too many people died for that right, and I will be damned if I let it happen during my lifetime. This is something that should transcend partisan politics and should unite both the left and the right, if only for one brief and shining moment.
Remember, jihad is not just a one-pronged operation. It involves much more than bullets, bombs, and innocent deaths. It also involves propaganda spewed by special interest pressure groups like CAIR and the ISNA, as well.
Here are a few other sites that are in on the fray and are well worth checking out: