From the BBC:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has condemned the decision by some European newspapers to reproduce cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as "disrespectful".
But he praised the UK media for its "considerable responsibility and sensitivity" for not publishing them.
He said freedom of speech did not mean an "open season" on religious taboos.
British Muslims are preparing to protest outside the Danish embassy in London, after the cartoons first appeared in a Danish newspaper.
What a strange world we live in. Strange enough for British papers to be called "responsible" and "sensitive", but things are stranger than that...
If Tony Blair had hung around to cast what would have been a deciding vote on the Religious Hatred Bill, it would now be illegal to print these cartoons in Britain.
Thankfully he didn’t, and the latest piece of ignorant New Labour nannying has been avoided. It is and should be perfectly legal in Britain to take the piss out of any religion, whether it is vicars on stage or cartoons in newspapers. Taking the piss is what being British is all about. No religious person has the right to demand that everyone else take his beliefs as seriously as he does.
But Straw is also right. That fact doesn’t mean that you are morally blameless if you publish any old tat that’s guaranteed to offend large numbers of people.
The cartoons in question can be found here.
A simple perusal will show you that as supposed satire they are unfunny, unsubtle and unfair. They crudely and ignorantly suggest that all Muslims are bombers.
In fact, it is only the halfwit fundamentalist element that bomb, and true to form, the halfwits are on the streets bellowing fury at all cartoonists Dutch, issuing fatwahs and generally engaging in all the other nonsense that gives religion a bad name.
That this would happen was entirely predictable. The French newspaper editors that re-published them en masse must have known it would happen. They did it not because of some pointless gesture about free speech – they already have free speech – but because they are provocative idiots.
The cartoons should have been ditched on grounds of quality alone. They’re embarrassing, and wise Muslims will ignore them.
But of course, the cartoons themselves couldn’t cause a fuss unless there were people on both sides looking for something to make a fuss about.
What causes the spark is usually neither here nor there, if the civilisations are desperate enough to clash.