It has come to my attention that certain Muslims are offended by cartoons about their prophet. Actually it has come to everyone's attention due to the overdramatization of the situation by the Muslim world. From discussions to demonstrations to full-blown riots, the condemnation of the Danish cartoons seems to be unable to reach a climax. Hopefully it will before the rioting escalates into violence, but then again depending on how one looks at things, maybe it already has.
I read a story in the Wall Street Journal just prior to writing this that covered a local French Muslim backlash against the reading of a 1741 play by Voltaire called "Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet". The article states that the play "uses the founder of Islam to lampoon all forms of religious frenzy and intolerance." It later mentions this weekend's message by bin Laden associate Ayman al-Zawahri which said the Danish cartoons "showed the West has double standards because 'no one dares to harm Jews...nor even to insult homosexuals.'"
Here is where my big problems with fanatical Islam arise. Why, as al-Zawahri says, does "no one [dare] to harm Jews"? Perhaps because fanatical Jews didn't pilot jetliners into the WTC and Pentagon on 9/11. Nobody has been running around scared of fanatical Christians or Hindus or Jews because none of these groups have committed mass-murders in the name of their Lord. Do we see Jewish mobs running rampant in Germany seeking retribution for the ill-treatment of their grandparents during the Holocaust? Do we see protestants terrorizing the Catholic Church worldwide in search of payback for sins against their faiths many centuries ago? Remember, it wasn't a hard-line Hinduist regime that blew up two 1,000-plus year old statues of Buddha because "calling them idols of infidels and repugnant to Islam."
In truth, as the WSJ article outlines, the Christian faith and Catholics in particular were outraged with Voltaire's play in the 18th century and "Roman Catholic clergymen denounced it as a thinly veiled anti-Christian tract." The Catholic king of France even banned Voltaire from Paris, forcing him to move to Geneva where the Swiss burned one of his books. However it appears the Church has taken a more "live and let live" approach to modern society. It does rebuke certain policies like abortion, but these stances never change for neither does the value of a life. In comparison, the effect of a play now 265 years old does tend to wane as the decades progress, and its offense to a few Muslims aside will hardly create shockwaves that reverberate through the masses.
Nearly every group on the face of this planet has in some way or another been victimized. The difference between the fanatics and the rest is that the latter have moved on while the former carries a grudge that must be avenged. Imagine Mel Gibson in the movie Payback magnified by about ten thousand. This number of fanatical Muslims (probably more, but ten thousand is a nice round number) give the other billion a bad name by screaming "ALLAH!!" while they run around bombing discos and markets in an attempt to purify the world.
In the words of one French daily, "Help us Voltaire. They've gone mad."