The French satirical weekly 'Charlie Hebdo' published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday, a move criticized by the French authorities which sent riot police to protect the magazine's offices.
Issues of the magazine hit newsstands with a front cover showing an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair with several caricatures of the Prophet on its inside pages, including some of him naked. The front page cartoon had the wheelchair-bound figure saying "You mustn't mock" under the headline "Untouchable 2", a reference to a hugely popular French movie about a paralyzed rich white man and his black assistant.
The publication comes amid widespread outrage over a short film, made with private funds in the United States, that mocks the Prophet and has ignited days of sometimes deadly protests in the Arab world, Africa, Asia and some Western countries.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized the publication of the cartoons as a provocation and said he had ordered security beefed up at French diplomatic offices in the Muslim world.
Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices were fire bombed last November after it published a mocking caricature of Mohammad. In 2005, Danish cartoons of the Prophet sparked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world that killed at least 50 people.
These violent riots we've been seeing have been, to Western thinking, out of proportion, out of control, irrational and unacceptable. Whatever the causes and provocations, they have been something that free people in the West simply can not understand -and will not tolerate much longer. I believe we are seeing the beginnings of an inevitable push back against what is perceived as bullying tactics. This publication may only be the beginning as people in Western countries grow weary of constantly having their freedom of speech taken from them, especially by people in foreign countries who do not follow law abiding and civilized means to register their protests and anger over what they think are insults to their religion. Instead, they demand everyone, everywhere, obey their religious laws and they threaten death and destruction to those who do not. They form mobs and go the the streets where they burn buildings and destroy property in an attempt to intimidate the world into obedience. Instead of calling for calm and peace, many of their religious leaders fan the flames and issue edicts making the murder and killing of those who insult Islam a religious duty. Many of the victims wind up being people who are their own countrymen and who share their religion but who have the misfortune of simply being in the way.
None of this will end well until they come to the understanding that they are not children, free to throw temper tantrums spreading fear, destruction and death. They are members of a world society which must learn to behave in a civilized manner. Accepting other peoples beliefs is not necessary but learning to tolerate each others beliefs is necessary. And it looks more and more to me as if that understanding and tolerance will only come when it is forced and civilized behavior is enforced.
Live Long and Prosper...