Most of the post is devoted to an interview with one Amhed Akkari, a Danish Muslim activist who had a key role in focusing the attention of the Islamic world on the cartoons. That is one aspect of this story that seem under-reported to me: The cartoons first appeared last September, seemingly attracting little notice. Rennie's piece makes it clear that Akkari and others took it upon themselves to increase awareness of the cartoons in the Muslim world, even traveling to various Arab countries to show the cartoons to Islamic leaders and urge a response.
I find almost all of what Akkari says quite unpersuasive, and I question the wisdom of Akkari and his group in taking such extraordinary steps to fan the flames created by a bunch of crude and insensitive editorial cartoons. Even so, as Hugh Hewitt notes, information like this underscores the complexity of the world we now live in: "In a wired world, there aren't any inconsequential actions, and everything is grist for the propagandists among the jihadists. "
If, by the way, you want to know what the U.S. State Department thinks of the cartoon controversy, Rick Moran does an excellent job of making that clear. He also skewers the MSM, once again, over their horribly lazy and inaccurate reporting of State's position. (We're almost getting to the point where skewering the MSM is so easy that it seems unsporting, aren't we?)
I happen to think the State Department's position is exactly right:
Our response is to say that while we certainly don't agree with, support, or in some cases, we condemn the views that are aired in public that are published in media organizations around the world, we, at the same time, defend the right of those individuals to express their views. For us, freedom of expression is at the core of our democracy and it is something that we have shed blood and treasure around the world to defend and we will continue to do so. That said, there are other aspects to democracy, our democracy -- democracies around the world -- and that is to promote understanding, to promote respect for minority rights, to try to appreciate the differences that may exist among us.
We believe, for example in our country, that people from different religious
backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, national backgrounds add to our strength as a country. And it is important to recognize and appreciate those differences. And it is also important to protect the rights of individuals and the media to express a point of view concerning various subjects. So while we share the offense that Muslims have taken at these images, we at the same time vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view. We may -- like I said, we may not agree with those points of view, we may condemn those points of view but we respect and emphasize the importance that those individuals have the right to express those points of view.
For example -- and on the particular cartoon that was published -- I know the Prime Minister of Denmark has talked about his, I know that the newspaper that originally printed it has apologized, so they have addressed this particular issue. So we would urge all parties to exercise the maximum degree of understanding, the maximum degree of tolerance when they talk about this issue. And we would urge dialogue, not violence. And that also those that might take offense at these images that have been published, when they see similar views or images that could be perceived as anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic, that they speak out with equal vigor against those images.
UPDATE: The Danish Embassy has been burned in Damascus. Gateway Pundit has a round-up. I disagree with Hugh. Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit) has this right: "This really is a case of civilization against the barbarians."
MEANWHILE, Michelle Malkin has put together a 2-minute video about all this. Download it here. It's very much worth watching.