And someone from my particular ethno-religious background might be especially invested in this, as one of the cartoons portrays the prophet Muhammend in a turban with a bomb sticking out of it. Such images do not do much to help the Sikh community in Europe or North America.
But aren't there ways to react to this other than storming the Danish Embassy and the E.U.? Are we really in the midst of a major diplomatic incident over cartoons? And is there any way to respond without making that slightly awkward waffling motion?
There are, incidentally, other cartoons that appeared with the 'Muhammed-turban-bomb' cartoon. They are described in the Nation, and they are pretty unsavory sounding:
I've been following the controversy over editorial cartoons published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper that show the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb under his headdress, saying that paradise was running out of virgins for all the suicide bombers, and holding a sword with his eyes blacked out. Since Islam forbids any visual depiction of Mohammed, and since these cartoons basically argue that terrorism is inherent to Islam, Muslims across Europe have taken offense, some countries have boycotted Danish goods and a few are up in arms--literally. (link)
Offensive? Yes, very. (Of course, it stops short of the high mark for blasphemy set by the The Satanic Verses. That was not something Rushdie printed because he thought it would be funny; he was trying to draw blood -- and he did, only he came dangerously close to having it be his own. But I digress...)
--The London Times, wafflingly, decided not to reprint the cartoons, but says it will provide links to the cartoons for those who wish to see them.
--The BBC did show the cartoons as part of a story on the controversy, according to Bloomberg.
--The International Herald Tribune reports that the Jordanian Times tried to run the cartoons, though the publishers later withdrew all issues.
--And here is my own attempt to not waffle: Muslims in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere are overreacting. These are offensive cartoons, but they represent the views of a small group of individuals, and they appeared in a short-term venue where they were going to be forgotten quickly (unless someone were to specifically start a controversy over them). If the beliefs of the faithful are as strong as they claim, they will withstand a couple of nasty caricatures in a newspaper somewhere. Hysterial anger and threats of violence are well out of proportion to the offense. And it distracts from the real issues: the disastrous American occupation of Iraq, and the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
Also, people who are outraged about the cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten should have a look-see at the Arabic press sometime. Have a look at this array of offensive cartoons from Arabic newspapers in recent years. I can't confirm that all of the cartoons he provides are real, but if they are legit this is a pretty powerful visual rebuttal to the charge that there is a one-sided pattern of insult here.