Muslim Outrage

You've probably heard about the huge controversy raging in Europe and the Muslim world about those cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Seventeen Arab Muslim nations have recalled ambassadors from the countries where newspapers have run the cartoons.

Muslim clerics are firing up the masses at the Friday sermons about how the West is insulting Islam.

A Danish newspaper got the controversy going. The newspaper heard about a book author who couldn't find an illustrator to do the drawings for his children's book because part of it was about Islam and artists were worried. After all, filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death in public and a note left pinned to his chest with the knife for the crime of criticizing Muslim practices toward women.

So the newspaper set out to prove it wasn't afraid and commissioned 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Danish companies in the Middle East have had to evacuate their personnel.

Other European newspapers ran the cartoons out of solidarity, freedom of speech.

Now, across the Middle East crowds are protesting European nations. A German was kidnapped in Nablus. Gunmen shut down the EU office in Gaza. And the Danish prime minister is issuing apologies to Muslim governments.

The cartoons were produced specifically to show we can insult anybody, we have freedom of speech.

I'm not showing you the cartoons for two reasons. One, you can figure out what they look like. They're political cartoons, caricatures, joke pictures of the prophet. Two, they are insulting to Muslims and to run them right now in this spot would be just another gratuitous insult.

But on the other hand, the Muslim world is wallowing in this. A Saudi cleric said Thursday, "This is great. The Muslim nation is fired up."

And, by the way, there's a story in The New York Times Friday about a painting hanging in a New York gallery that depicts Jesus as bin Ladin.

You see any rioting in the streets here? No.

Now that's civilization. People can be annoyed or angry or offended without having ambassadors recalled.

And, by the way, the people who are so insulted here don't see anything wrong with calling Jews pigs and apes, and calling Christians infidels and idolaters and go ahead and kill them.

It's a good idea not to insult someone's religion. It's also a good idea not to find insult everywhere you look.

That's My Word.

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