What in God's Most Holy Name is going on here? What sort of response is this? Is this what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) - the one whom is supposedly being defended by these Muslims - would do in this situation? Absolutely not. I mean, let's examine briefly what the Prophet (pbuh) did do when he was confronted with very similar situations. On the very first day of the Prophet's (pbuh) ministry, his own uncle, Abu Lahab, interrupted him and yelled out, "May you perish!" The Prophet (pbuh) did nothing.
And he correctly observes that extremists on both sides of the European culture war have been all to eager to fan the flames:
Now, this is total speculation on my part, but I believe in my heart of hearts that the publishers of these cartoons think that Muslims are nothing but a bunch of barbarians. To prove it, they intentionally published offensive and provocative cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a horrible manner so that Muslims will threaten innocent Europeans, shoot guns in the air, and burn Danish flags. And you know what? Muslims, by and large, took the bait and ended up looking like barbarians. Isn't that a stupid thing to do? I think so. Don't you think so?
(1) I believe in freedom of expression. Everyone should be free to express themselves, even if it means offending others. Yet, even though we have this freedom, we should exercise some responsibility. We in America have freedom of speech and expression, but we understand this to mean that we can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. With freedom comes responsibility. Even though someone can call the Prophet a "terrorist" and "demon-possessed pedophile," it does not mean he or she should do so. He or she should refrain from doing so, not because their freedom is curtailed, but because it is out of respect for the faith of other people.
I mean, no one would ever think of publishing a cartoon depicting Jesus (pbuh) as a Catholic priest being hauled away in handcuffs because he sexually abused a young boy. Such a cartoon, if ever published, would deeply and profoundly offend me as a Muslim. Christ (pbuh) is too pure, too holy, too noble to be maligned like that. The same should go for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
(2) With that being said, this same principle must also apply to Muslims as well. It is well known that Arab and Muslim newspapers across the world routinely publish cartoons that are very offensive to non-Muslims, most especially Jews. This is wrong. If it is wrong to publish a cartoon maligning the Prophet (pbuh), it is also wrong to publish cartoons that are offensive to Jewish or Christian sensibilities. It goes both ways, and Muslims should understand and respect this.
I think he's right, both on the principle of self limitation in free expression and that if they want respect Muslims need to do a much better job of toning down their own religious and ethnic prejudices. However, I must say that I think he's sadly over-optimistic in saying that no one would ever think of portraying Jesus as an abusive priest. I suspect all too many 'elite' in both Europe and America would consider that a completely valid expression of their freedom of expression.