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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 16:10 GMT
Are protests over cartoons justified?
Indonesian Muslim protesters burn a Danish flag
Are the protests over the publication in Europe of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad justified?

Fresh demonstrations are being made by Muslims angered by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September.

The latest protests have seen the Danish embassy in Beirut set on fire, with police firing tear gas to control the crowd.

Should the European press have published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad? What is your reaction to the protests? How do you see the boundaries of freedom of expression versus religious offence? Send us your comments.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

So the press create a situation, the press inflame the situation, then the press stand back in amazement as people demonstrate and embassies are attacked. The printing of these cartoons was not about freedom of speech it was the Western press seeking to raise the heat on an already high tepmerature situation. Instead of looking down on the muslim reaction we shpould question why newspapers chose to print the cartoons when they knew full well what the reaction would be. After all, as we have been repeatedly told, these were just a few cartoons. They were hardly essential news items. No doubt the press, as always, will wash its hands of the affair and point the blame elsewhere.
huw evans, brighton, england

To everyone in the middle east, that has been offended by these cartoons, why dont we see the same commitment in demonstrating against the extremists that hold Islam hostage with suicide bombs and beheadings. When I see middle eastern populations march and protest agains suicide bombs directed against civilians, then I will take your protests seriously when Islam is mocked. These one-sided protests against the cartoons, wether they were offensive or not, are ridiculous.
Thomas, Denmark

Selam. I am from Turkey and we have a religious leader lived in the 12th century, named Mevlana. The cornerstone of Islam is "tolerance" and "forgiveness" he points. In this case, first of all, Islam respects all prophets, both Moses and Christ. In Islam, it is strictly forbidden to make photos of Muhammed - not humanbeings. We as Moslems can tolerate the FAULTS but this is not a fault. This seems like a humiliation and insult in order to provocate. It is hard to tolerate, indeed. However, we will do our best as long as we dont see any other cartoon of Muhammed the Beloved. Thanks.
Tulin, Istanbul - Turkey

Some contributors have compared this demonstration with the outrage over the Jerry Springer opera. Yes indeed Christians were upset, but no-one took to the streets waving placards threatening death and destruction. Why are these Muslims so hot-headed?
Jon, Stockport

I think this just proves what an extreme religion Islam can be and it underlines how serious Muslim's can take themselves and their religion, if they can't see some humour and occasionally laugh at themselves. The other scary part of this ridiculous over reaction is how quickly violent protest broke out around world.
Matt Prevett, London

These protestors who are burning flags and buildings, and threatening the West with violence in the name of Islam, must feel really aggrieved at the insensitive cartoon equating their religion with Terrorism. The papers have really got this one wrong.
Phil Jones, Singapore

I believe that it probably was not the best idea to have published this cartoon in the firstplace, but I have nothing against freedom of speech . muslims are trying to tell us that their religion is promoting world peace , well im sorry but after seeing banners and hearing some of the shouting maybe all the religion does promote is violence and hatred. I think its time the police stamped this out, if i was to go into the street shouting and waving banners saying i wanted to kill people i would very quickly be arrested !!!
Chris MacInnis, brighton uk

These cartoons were there since September. Nobody seemed offended then. However, now, just when the IAEA is about to report Iran to the Security Council, "spontaneous" outrage spreads everywhere. What a coincidence, isn't?
Santi, Fetcham, Surrey

These protests are not caused only because of the cartoons. This reaction is caused by the overall stance of the West regarding Islam. The fanatical Islamists see Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, immigrants in the US & EU being monitored and now this. They see an attack from the West to their lands and values. We have to talk to them and try to find mutual grounds of agreement. Would we like it if there was a cartoon in an Arab newspaper ridiculing Christ? This regardless the kind of reaction of people in Europe or the US.
Charis, Athens, Greece

Because we have the legal right to freely express our opinions does not justify using these rights to deliberately hurt others. That is irresponsible and unwise. Every person has the God-given right to choose their faith and worship according to their conscience. It serves no good purpose to insult another's sincere beliefs simply to prove that we are 'allowed' to. Publishing and repeating the cartoons while knowing they would offend, was unwise and irresponsible. But the violent, lawless reaction by the so-called Muslim extremists is totally inexcusable and ironically appears to contradict the teaching of the same leader they claim to defend. I would also ask why Christians are denied the same freedom in some Muslim countries that Muslims demand and are given in western countries? Double standards serve no cause well...
Gordon Bauwens, Glasgow, Scotland

Cartoon demonstrators facing a line of police call for the murder of people and praise suicide bombers - police reaction 'we are studying the tapes'. A British woman reads out a list of British soldiers who were killed in Iraq, a British man collects signatures for a petition, an 80+ year old concentration camp survivor protests at a New Labour meeting - police reaction 'arrest and prosecute them all'. This is fundamentalist political correctness by spineless gutless authorities.
Anon

We are told that the UK police are to examine the film footage of the recent demonstration in London and arrests could follow. We shall see, but I must confess to being somewhat pessimistic about such a development. When I saw the messages being held aloft by these protesters marching on London streets I knew they were illegal and I asked myself why these protesters were not immediately arrested for breaking UK law. The spate of lawless protests now being orchestrated around the world caused me to reflect on the wanton destruction by the Taliban, some years ago in Afghanistan, of the historic Buddha images carved into the a cliff there. Buddha is a prophet too, but I cannot recall any demonstrations of the Muslim world to protest this inane destruction. Double standards permeates our modern world but those who live in Britain must obey Britain's laws.
David, Moscow, Russia

It's no wonder the world and his wife are getting worked up over the "overreactions" of us Muslims as that is all the media are showing. If the media was unbiased, and we all know the answer to that, you would not only see the burning of flags/demonstrations but also the majority of Muslims who although extremely hurt by these publications, are continuing their daily lives knowing what has been done, has been done.
Nosheen Hussain, Milton Keynes, Bucks

It's good that we have the internet, so that people in the UK can participate in this debate - since the newspapers in UK are too afraid to show the cartoons! Freedom of speech overrules all religions - otherwise we could not even have this discussion!
Michael, Copenhagen, Denmark






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