The way Khomeini and others reacted to Salman Rushdie was just idiotic. With all their silly threats and fatwas, they actually made that guy more famous.<quoted text>
I think what you are saying is the way it should be, but I wonder how many people do listen to people, like Khomeini, when he was alive and considered the top dog in Islam, at least in Iran? What about Salman Rushdie, who had a Fatwa declared on him by Khomeini, when Rushdie published his book, The Satanic Verses? Rushdie was forced to live under police protection for years after that book came out. Why should an author, irregardless of what he writes in a book, have to fear for his life, because some powerful idiot in a country that houses a lot of idiots, have to fear for his life, when he lives in a free country.....
Regarding the cartoons, the issue is a lot more deeper than westerners perceive. Islam is a religion without images. Muslims are not allowed to draw pictures of Muhammed or his disciples or anyone prominent from that time. Even if they draw a beautiful drawing, it's still not allowed. If westerners begin to exert their free speech and shove loads of cartoons in our faces, our children will develop a completely baseless and erroneous image of Muhammed in their minds. Ultimately they may end up putting images in their homes and worshipping them, just as how Hindus and some Christians do with their European-looking Jesus. Perhaps if photography existed back then, things may have been different, but it didn't.
So to Muslims, westerners are not just poking fun or criticising or ridiculing, they are attacking or trying to corrupt the very fabric of the faith. In any case, the way some of them reacted was really stupid. But that was just the reaction of 0.007% of Muslims. The rest just went on with their lives, resorted to courts or just let the whole thing blow over.
I find it weird and disturbing that you believe so so strongly in free speech. One should always be free to speak the truth. But as for speaking lies and hate speech, that is unacceptable and could lead to genocide. If you think you have free speech, go to an airport and shout "Bomb!", then you'll see how free you really are.
A few years back our country suffered xenophobic attacks, because someone exert his free speech to spread hatred. This thing about this Canadian professor may seem stupid now, but back in colonial times, it became widespread justification of racism and enslavement of blacks. And we all know what Hitler's Mein Kampf did to the Jews. In Uganda, a pastor has been exerting his freedom to convince the villagers that homosexuals are paedophiles and lick each others anuses and eat each others crap. Homosexuals now suffer complete rejection in society, having to live on the outskirts in shacks.
These Muhammed cartoons incite prejudice in the west against Muslims.
In such cases it is best to arrest the inciter and lock him up, than let the situation spiral out of control in the name of free speech. Free speech is rubbish when society is irresponsible and uneducated.