When I was younger, my dad used to say that freedom is conditional. You see, with freedom comes responsibilty. You are free to do whatever you please as long as your actions or words do not hurt or limit the freedom of another. Once harm is established, then you have to face the ramifications and may even have your freedom restricted or revoked.
So in the West, people are free and democratic, something we still long for. Yet what is freedom, really, and how do you define it? Muslim girls in France are banned from wearing hijab in schools, a move unanimously backed by the french goverment. People with Muslim, Arab or African names have difficulty finding employment. In the States, there is the Partiot's Act which allows government agencies to spy on people.
On the other hand, the West has freedom of speech. So much so, that often time slander and hateful comments are regarded as the individual's inherent right to free speech. (antisemitic comments and negative remarks about the holocaust are crimes punishable by law in many western countries. These negative remarks include publicly doubting the holocaust.. but of course prophet bashing is free speech and welcomed!)
So this brings me to the Danish cartoons that slander the Prophet (PBUH). The questions that beg to be asked, is a person's freedom limited or unlimited? Shouldn't a person be held responsible for the results of his/her right to practice free speech? In this instance, my dad's words come to my mind, you are only free to do as you wish as long as no one is harmed. In the case of the Danish cartoons, clearly the sensibilities of all Muslims were offended .
So what do we do now? Do we murder him like Theo Van Gogh, the Danish filmaker was? Do we act violently and reinforce the negative image Islam seems to have? Do we act rashly with threats, hateful words and boycotts that would do Muslims more harm than good and create a backlash?
Or do we rise to the occasion? Why not sue the cartoonist for defamation and slander? Why not take the high road and settle this one and for all in courts? Why not establish a clear precedant in their courts and in their lands that makes it clear that slander of religion (whatever it maybe) is not freedom of speech and should not be tolerated? Why not be patient, resourceful and resilent until we have it established that with freedom of speech comes responsibility?
Wasn't the Prophet (PBUH) mocked and ridiculed by his opponents? For that matter, weren't most prophets (PBUT). But the Prophet never waged a war for that reason or incited violence and doled out threats. Why not mimick his actions as we struggle to right the wrong done against him?
Maybe because it is easier to make a ruckus and fuss, instead of being the bigger and better persons, instigating real and lasting change for the better.