The Muslim Brotherhood's position, put by one of its younger militants, Tariq Ramadan--who is, strangely enough, also an adviser to the British home secretary--can be summed up as follows: It is against Islamic principles to represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. Both claims, however, are false.
The claim that the ban on depicting Muhammad and other prophets is an absolute principle of Islam is also refuted by history. Many portraits of Muhammad have been drawn by Muslim artists, often commissioned by Muslim rulers. There is no space here to provide an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most famous ...
Now to the second claim, that the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. That is true if we restrict the Muslim world to the Brotherhood and its siblings in the Salafist movement, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda. But these are all political organizations masquerading as religious ones.
Well, that's pretty interesting. He calls the rioters 'rent-a-mobs,' which makes sense to me. I've heard of the same thing in China, where the government buses show up at the schools, the students are told to get on, they head to the US embassy & are issued protest signs as they step off. The students have a field day; government sanctioned anarchy! Sweet! If you look at the photos of some of the Chinese protests last year, a lot of the 'angry protesters' are grinning and really seem to be having fun.
Anyway, remember the claim that an Egyptian newspaper had printed the cartoons back in October 2005? Well, Belmont Club links to scans of it at Egyptian Sandmonkey, an Egyptian blog. Very cool find.
In the comments to that post, a gentleman by the name of Mohamed charges Jyllands-Posten with hypocrisy:
By the way, hypocricy goes both ways, the guardian published an article on Monday about the same paper (yes the same exact hysterical defender of free speech) refusing to publish some cartoons three years ago citing they'd be insulting to christians and would be considered as unneccessary provocation.
Completely different situation. First, the Christians weren't threatening free speech, so what would be the point? The Jyllands-Posten editor made it very clear the Muhammed cartoons were published to test the boundaries, to see if, after the murder of Theo van Gogh for making a film that attacked Islam, Denmark was still free.
Second, a great many newspapers and magazines in the West have already published cartoons lampooning and insulting Jesus, Christianity and Christians. It's been done; it is, in fact, cliche, which is about the same in the publishing world as not being halal, eh?