Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Riots over cartoons reflect gulf of understanding
Last night, we brought Andrew Sullivan, an incredibly sharp writer and blogger, on the program.

We had him on to discuss the ongoing demonstrations in the Muslim world over the publishing of several irreverent cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. As we were talking, I was looking at pictures of the demonstrations, wondering how such a great gulf in understanding can exist between different groups of people.

Andrew pointed to recent depictions of Jesus Christ in popular media in the United States -- citing the current cover of "Rolling Stone" with Kanye West dressed up as Jesus Christ. We live in the West, he said, we can depict anybody without people rioting.

We're going to explore this issue tonight on the show. We'll also take a look at the demonstrations through the eyes of CNN correspondents who are on the ground in these countries.

The demonstrations have all of us wondering how moderate Muslims are feeling these days. Can Islam co-exist with freedom of speech and freedom of the press? What is off-limits? What is allowed? We're interested in hearing your thoughts.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 6:23 PM ET
  79 Comments
Freedom of speech is a responsibility, not a right. As such we should all take care not to attack each other with that freedom.
Posted By Anonymous Andrea, Stoney Creek, ON : 7:25 PM ET
I agree with Mr. Sullivan- people here don't riot about images that they might find offensive to their sexuality, race, gender, religion, etc. However, I believe this is because most Americans understand that prohibiting one type of free speech sets a dangerous precedent for limiting those that are most vital. This understanding of give and take allows us to have a very different view than those who live in predominantly Muslim countries might have.
Posted By Anonymous Blair, Chicago, IL : 7:30 PM ET
The riots are pretty barbaric to see. In my opinion, there is a certain hypocrisy on the part of those who see fit to burn effigies of people who we may see as being totally respectful.
I noticed one sign being held during the riots that read "Remember what happened with 9-11." That is pretty dreadful to be seeing!! Especially over a cartoon depiction that is found offensive!
We have seen the Pope, Jesus & many other religious people being made "light" of with no reprimands or riots! I am thankful for living in a society where we are not fearful of free speech, even though some views I do not agree with!
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, Edmonton AB Canada : 7:33 PM ET
I find it ironic that the Muslim world that promotes tolerant and peace-loving is reacting with such violence and hate. The Hamshahri newspaper makes this even more apparent by retaliating with a Holocaust cartoon contest. Instead of coming to a resolution, it appears that Muslim extremists are taking advantage of this issue by promoting their own violent agenda.

I do value Western freedom of speech but I understand, as an aspiring journalist myself, that such a liberty requires responsibility and judgement.
Posted By Anonymous Krystal, Greenville SC : 7:39 PM ET
"Moderate Muslims"? With recents events, that terms seems more and more like an oxymoron.
Posted By Anonymous Vikas Chowdhry, Madison WI : 7:39 PM ET
The Islamic world should take a page from MLK--"Nonviolence or Nonexistence." How can people of other faiths respect their religion and what it stands for when they show us so much rage. Sure they are angry, but it comes across as an excuse to perpetrate violence. There are more eloquent and effective ways to express displeasure.
Posted By Anonymous Jen, Raleigh NC : 7:39 PM ET
Hello Anderson. Watch you every night.

My comment on the explosion of protests in the Muslim world is more of a question. Should not these same people have been protesting with the same ferocity against the beheadings, murders, suicide bombings etc. etc. that have been carried out in the very same name of Muhhamud/Islam . It is so hypocritical for these faithful adherents to protest a cartoon but not to protest murder, suicide and mayhem carried out by so-called beleivers When is the Islamic world going to hit the street in protest against the too many that are bringing the Islamic faith into disrepute. Where are the Imams of the peaceful religion when people are dying , do they only come out to protest cartoons, are death murder ok.
What gives with these people/
Posted By Anonymous Allan Vancouver British Columbia : 7:40 PM ET
World peace will never be achieved and no issue of this type will ever be resolved as long as religion is involved. I recommend everyone read "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris.
Posted By Anonymous James Hansen, Spring, TX : 7:40 PM ET
news papers should be able to write anything they want, freedom of the press allows that. the people in other countries need to know that freedom the press isnt only there when its convienant, we have our freedom to do what we want, any time.
Posted By Anonymous Matt lloyd, cedar hills, Utah : 7:41 PM ET
I think it important to remember that our (US) concept of freedom of speech is quite different than that globally.

That being said, I believe the cartoons were culturally insensitive in so much as it is forbidden by Islam to depict the Prophet. However, there is no justification for the violence that has ocurred.

In addition, I do not think it was appropriate for the cartoons to be re-printed after the conflict emerged. In a conflict, I do not believe one side should sacrifice their fundamental beliefs and protected values, but I do beleive that some reverence and humility should be exercised.
Posted By Anonymous Mea Aloha Shimizu, Haleiwa, HI : 7:45 PM ET
I'm not saying all Muslims have this level of intolerance, but it certainly is sad seeing how violent the vocal majority can be over such events. In the past year we have seen violent protests over: (a) "Inappropriate" handling of a religious text (Koran) and now (b) Caricatures of a dead prophet. These are the types of things that (apparantly) the Muslim faith holds dear. And yet in our Western, Judeo-Christian ethic we value human life. Does this mean we should react to Islamist hostage-taking and hostage-killing with "over the top" violence against their society? Where is their respect for OUR values?
Posted By Anonymous Ray Hudson, Huntington Beach, CA : 7:48 PM ET
I am absolutely amazed that western governments and media would accept for a nanosecond any form of justification for the kind of behavior being exhibited by muslims around the world.
They (muslim extremists)appear to be succeeding beyond their wildest dreams:
First having cowed less extreme members of their faith into a cowardly silence, now having the same effect upon western governments and media. Are we in the west supposed to give in without a fight to these horrible people? They cannot stand to live in their own countries because of the backwardness and violence, now they not only want to immigrate to western countries, but want to bring the same idiocy here, and expect us to accept it as well. I am frightened for my family, my culture, and my nation by these people, and feel myself turning from a benign neutrality towards them to something resembling near hatred. I am also deeply ashamed of my government. Is there no answer for this but spineless submission?
Posted By Anonymous S Franklin, Indianapolis, Ind : 7:49 PM ET
Muslims hold jesus christ in the same respect when it comes to depiction in cartoons and caricatures as the Prophet Muhammad. No muslim will enjoy seeing a cartoon of jesus either.
Its not just a matter of whether you show the personality in a cartoon, although it is offensive to muslims, the issue here is making offensive and insulting depictions of a personality held in deep respect and reverence by more than a billion people all over the world. To lampoon a militant organization is one thing but to ridicule the Prophet of Islam is the worst kind of Islamophobic ignorance possible.
As for the west, freedom of speech is a charade in itself. How come freedom of speech and expression falls miserably restricted and bounded when it comes to issues that involve, say, Nazi germany, or KKK, or even when it comes to a matter of showing the dead body of a US soldier? Why the double standards there?
Posted By Anonymous Ali, Seattle WA : 7:50 PM ET
These riots are only peripherally about cartoons.

In 1849, there were riots in NYC between fans of rival Shakespearean actors, American Edwin Forrest and British import William C. Macready.

Macready was appearing in the Astor Place Opera House as Hamlet; fans of his American rival were outraged at his disrespecting their boy in print. When police ejected disruptive elements from the theater, it sparked rioting in the streets that ultimately left 22 people dead.

Of course it wasn't really about alternate schools of acting, but about New World rage and Old World arrogance and large pools of mainly idle young men suffering from testosterone poisoning.

The "Cartoon Riots" are much the same - a group of disaffected young men fond of thinking of themselves as victims, looking for a spark.

If it hadn't been cartoons in Danish papers, it would have been something else.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 7:50 PM ET
I am in full agreement with Andrew Sullivan. I don't see this current crises as any different than what happened with Salmon Rushdi(sp?).And that was appalling. As much as I respect the Islam faith in it's efforts to avoid idolitry, this is a direct attack on free speach and the rule should stand...if you don't like it, don't look at it.
I don't want to think myself so paranoid as to believe this will be used by [some] in the western world to exercise more censorship on our press. But if this does occur, what would be the logical next step?
Posted By Anonymous Andrew Jenkins, San Marcos, California : 7:52 PM ET
I find appalling the latest riot in the middle east about the cartoon depicting prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. How come nobody protested when Attah and his muslim brothers flew a plane into the world trade center in the name of this same religion? I guess they must have supported his idea which in turn tells me that something is not right somewhere. Fill in the blank.
Posted By Anonymous Dustin, North Providence, RI : 7:52 PM ET
I remember the huge amount of protest and vitriole which occured in 78-79 when the iranian "student uprising" occurred and americas "radical fringe" were calling for all out war in response to the takeover of our embassy in Tehran. Would we be better off today had that happened...? I think so. But this current "uprising" involving Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia (et al.) and the horrible war in Iraq may signal a point too far for the free world as it is surrounded by significant unrest in the whole of the muslim world. The muslim world is projecting its intolerance, anger, fascism and terrorism on the free world and based on what we are saying and hearing about how we should be more respectful of their sensibilities shows we may continue down the historically failed route of appeasment.... bad choice free world! Mutual respect will only come from a position of strength!
Posted By Anonymous Eli, Medford, OR : 7:54 PM ET
I think that Muslims are feeling pressured by the "Outside World" for now we have stereotypes of them being the "bad guys" for reasons I assume everyone knows. Though, now that they saw a mockery of Mohammed they feel certain the world is dishonoring them and they chose to do the same to us by mocking the Holocaust to show us that if we do something harsh to them they'll do the same to us. On the other hand, not all of them are like that and that is the part all of us look past.
Posted By Anonymous Vicki (Livingston, NJ) : 7:54 PM ET
First, I think it was pretty irresponsible of the newspaper to post the images without first researching the implications of such a post. There certainly are things which are censored, even in American publications - and with good reason. Pornography, hate messages, and other non-productive discourse is routinely omitted by responsible editors.
Second, while I think the newspaper made an error of judgement, it is absolutely still their right to allow this to be published. And the ensuing riots that have been widely publicized are not, I think, the major form of protest by offended parties. I'd be willing to bet there are more peaceful rallies and open discussion going on in various outlets than is being reported on.
Attributing these deadly riots to Islam seems pretty silly. I can remember quite a few deadly riots occuring here in the good ole USA in the past thirty years that were the direct result of inflammatory remarks (to be honest, the remarks usually followed an event of perceived injustice). These types of events are not restricted to the "Muslim world" by any stretch.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Atlanta : 7:56 PM ET
Adding to S. Franklin's comment, I myself have the slow itching feeling of near hatred, a hatred that does NOT come from misunderstanding, but from a clear understanding and a growing fear of anyone who values the IF in the afterlife, and places absolutely no value on the lives we have in this world. And it comes from the cancer my father calls organized religion, not a belief in god.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Seattle, WA : 7:56 PM ET
So let me understand this "faith" called Islam. People can kill children with IEDs, chop heads off of people, hold innocent women under threat of death, crash three jetliners and no riots. Someone draws a cartoon and we have rioting and burning in the streets? This is a religion the world can do without.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, Chicago, IL : 7:56 PM ET
Why is it that issues with muslims and the islamic religion are "easily" associated with violence?

Why is it that issues with people in poverty are "easily" associated with violence?

Why is it that rulers of these people in poverty often induce violence towards others so they could stay in power? Mao in China did it. The "princes" in Saudi Arabia are doing it. So, the way I see it, the problem is at the top. When you have governments who're only thinking of themselves, trying to stay in power, and direct the people's anger towards others, this problem will not be solved. We need to distribute the wealth, we need to educate the people, but with such governments, how can you do any of these? Oh, is it me or the princes of Saudi Arabia are very close friends with our government?
Posted By Anonymous Frank , San Francisco, CA : 7:56 PM ET
It is more than ironic that this particular protest should be occasioned by something that happened in Denmark and should be directed at all Danes because of what one newspaper printed. Denmark is the one country that with near unanimity stood up for its Jews during World War II. A flotilla helped most Jews to escape the Nazis to neutral Sweden. When the Jews were ordered to wear a yellow Star of David, the King of Denmark wore one, too, because he wished to show he was King of all his subjects, not just the Christian ones. I first saw the film Cabaret in a movie theater across from Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, unnecessarily subtitled into Danish because nearly all Danes speak excellent English. As the horror unfolded on screen, I realized that I was among people who had suffered the horrors of this regime and felt safer than I would have in a theater in the U.S. So I say that at this point, I am Dane. We are all Danes.
Posted By Anonymous Richard L Goldfarb, Seattle WA : 7:56 PM ET
Don't forget that "The Book of Daniel" just got canceled here in the US due to reprimandation of the network by Christians for making light of Jesus. It's not the same as a riot, but it shows we aren't completely immune.
Posted By Anonymous Caroline Shapiro, Oakland, California : 7:57 PM ET
I don't understand why we need to have separate rules for Muslims and a set for all other religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.). Why can't Muslims come to terms with reality and become a modern religion. That means respecting freedom of the press and giving Muslim women more rights.
Posted By Anonymous KC, San Diego, CA : 7:58 PM ET
I think what has been done is truely unexpectable... All Prophets have been brought to us from God..Very wrong to put an honorable prophet in a cartoon..Is it a freedom of speech to lower a Prophet for what good he has done for God?
Posted By Anonymous Marie M. New york : 7:59 PM ET
Religion is fake and created by human beings. Do not believe in religion and your life will be better. More you're involved in religion more you're crazy.
Posted By Anonymous Tung Hartford, CT : 8:00 PM ET
The violent behavior of the muslim protesters only corroborates and reinforces the message in the cartoons. People who embrace freedom will not give it up, even if intimidated by violence. Believers of violence are pathetic and no matter what the Prophet says, there won't be virgins for them after they die in their acts.
Posted By Anonymous Min Zhou, San Jose, CA : 8:02 PM ET
Excuse me? Freedom of speech is not a right? That comment blows my mind, not to mention, takes the air out of the Bill of Rights. Speech is most certainly a right. I have the right to voice my opinion. Whether I have an obligation to be responsible with that right is a separate argument. Did the cartoon lack good judgment? Probably. Are muslim activists responding appropriately? Obviously not.

Interesting paradox that most are protesting the depiction of Muhammad with a bomb on his head, by using violence and threats. Maybe the cartoonist had a point.
Posted By Anonymous Jon, Seattle WA : 8:03 PM ET
What the cartoon demonstrations bring to light is the insanity prevalent in fundamentalist religion where freedom of expression is nonexistent. Therefore the barriers between reason and rioting remain infinite and any discussion is strictly one-sided.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Vancouver, BC : 8:04 PM ET
Why are the rioters so easily led into dangerous and destructive behavior? Is their religion so restrictive and submissive they have no outlet for emotion? I notice their religious leaders and governments do nothng to stop any of it. Have they forgotten the teaching of Muhammad who said "the scholar's ink is more sacred than the blood of martyrs"?
Posted By Anonymous Karlene Wiese, New York City, New York : 8:07 PM ET
The censorship Islam is being accused of is no different than the censorship of some of the Christian groups here in this country that demanded the removal of "The Book of Daniel", from the NBC TV line-up. They threatened boycotts against NBC and their sponsors to make NBC submito their wishes. I see no difference!
Posted By Anonymous Trish Houston, TX : 8:08 PM ET
This is an excellent topic, and something I was just wondering about myself last night. I was thinking about how so many of the images that I see coming out of the Middle East are ones of anger, violence, and intollerance. Why is that?

I think previous comments here ask a good question. Why would people protest cartoons that weren't even printed in their own countries (and if they're so horrible, why didn't anyone in Denmark or the other countries protest?) but not protest all the extreme things that men and women are doing in the name of Islam?

Maybe it's just as well that I don't understand why that is because I'm not sure I want that kind of logic to make sense to me.
Posted By Anonymous Suzy, Glendale Heights, IL : 8:09 PM ET
The spontaneous reactions of most of the believers just verifed the veracity of the cartoons.
Posted By Anonymous Ciraco Dipaloloco, Ontario Canada : 8:09 PM ET
Anderson,
My beliefs may not reflect the majority because I try my best to respect all beliefs whether or not I agree with a particular individual. Any cartoons depicting and making a mockery of anyone's beliefs are protected by our constitution; however, there should be boundaries when venturing into such a delicate subject. Such matters should proceed with good taste,although it is not mandated by law. It's a shame that many people are walking around with such arrogant views-as if what they think has to be right and everyone else is wrong. This only fuels the fire when ignorance exists in this country , as if this is the only place on earth. Education of different cultures and beliefs along with respecting others is the key to a harmonious existence in this world. Whether or not I am offended by all of this is not really relevant. I take more offense to George Bush playing God these days.
Posted By Anonymous Angie, St.Louis, MO : 8:10 PM ET
The First Amendment is too often only evoked when hate speech is involved. The controversial cartoon was not merely a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed; it also depicted a lit fuse coming out of the top of his turban. No one seriously questioned when Mick Jagger's half-time performance was edited on Sunday because the lyrics contained a synonym for "rooster." But it seems like everyone is up in arms when the Muslim world objects to an extremely derogatory depiction of their religion, which is not only blasphemous but insinuates that all Moslems are terrorists.

I think we should all ask ourselves how we would feel if we opened up the Sunday paper, and found a massive cartoon depiction of a certain male part which is sometimes referred to by a word synonymous with "rooster." We may fervently believe in freedom of speech, while acknowledging that some expressions are inappropriate. I don't see why people don't regard racism and disrespect of an entire religion as equally inappropriate.
Posted By Anonymous Christina Davis, Washington D.C. : 8:11 PM ET
When radical adherants to a faith (and I don't just mean Islam) think that they are judge and executioner, then the clash between free speech, criticism and religion are inevitable. If God is really worried about how prophets are being portrayed it is certainly well within his power to deal with it. If he doesn't, maybe it's a sign he's better at forgiving than the average religious zealot.

From my point of view, if the response of Islam to satirization is violence and threats of violence, then in my view the religion needs to take a long look at whether it is the "religion of peace" that it claims to be.
Posted By Anonymous Colin, Riverside CA : 8:12 PM ET
I am an ardent supporter of Freedom of the Press. However, publishing anything that is distinctly against the teachings of a religion, which has the potential of offending millions of its followers, is not Freedom of the Press, but a blatant misuse of the privilege. Though not a Christian, I'm not too keen on the comic use of Jesus look-a-likes either. Is good taste against freedom of the press?
Posted By Anonymous Judy Rae Smith, Fairbanks, AK : 8:14 PM ET
What we, as Americans, percieve as normal is usually not percieved normal in the Muslim World. So, while we look at these cartoons carelessly and thinking that it is just an expression of free speech, any Muslim will look at it as an attack upon his/her most respected religious symbol and leader.

Muslims see this cartoon as an attack on Islam while the west sees it as just an expression of free speech.

Islam itself, as a religion, permits and allows free speech. What occurs in some areas in the Middle East today (including riots that destroyed churches) actually goes against basic Islamic teaching.

Islam can, by outing extremists and dictators, live in a society that not only allows free speech but also encourages it.

So, its a bit ironic that terrorists and rioters who destroyed churches are seen as bad people by both the Western World AS WELL AS most Muslims.
Posted By Anonymous Hany Dublin OH : 8:15 PM ET
Absolutely Absurd behavior, but increasingly becoming the norm. That is all I have to say about Muslims violently rioting in response to a Danish cartoon depicting their prophet.Freedom of speech should be able to coexist peacefully with the Muslim world. However, they obviously do not believe in such a concept and incidentally, their behavior shows us that they obviously cannot peacefully deal with the concept. I find it alarming that they cannot respect that there exist on this planet people who ARE NOT Muslims and cannot respect other's rights to freely express THEIR thoughts. Thank God for the U.S. and our ability to agree to disagree and respect for others! We are tolerant and do not take things seriously that shouldn't be taken seriously,ie. A CARTOON!!! If someone here rioted over a cartoon depiction, they'd be in jail or the nuthouse!!
Posted By Anonymous Amy Garcia, St. Paul, MN : 8:15 PM ET
Anderson,
This is a very important issue and needs to be discussed in forums like these more often and vigrously. I have a feeling this event is rapidly snow balling into some thing of proportions that few of us in the West can begin to comprehend.... these riots and demonstration perplex us more than anything .... however for the Islamic world I suspect.. this is not another protest

Here is my take on the issue:

What is at play is the clash of values, culture and perhaps way of living. West cherishes Freedom of speech as the corner stone of its way of living, while in the Middle East and rest of the Islamic world, the culture, values and the way of life revolves around tenets of Islam. We in the West simply do not understand what drives the Islamic world and vice versa.

Yes we have the right to Freedom of speech, but there is no right which is ABSOLUTE, every right has its limits and responsibilities. There are unsaid limits for cartoons as well, do we see cartoons lampooning the victims of Nazi Germany, does the national press in Europe make fun of homosexuality....perhaps not.
Therefore Freedom of Speech would also have to learn to respect Islam as a religion. Because, refusing to understand what the other culture stands for is the shortest route to war, and striving for peaceful co-existence is the only worthwhile option to fight for
Posted By Anonymous Maneesh, Moutain View, CA : 8:16 PM ET
history has shown that islamic religious leaders always try to curtail freedom...be it the burkha (veil) ..be it freedom of women...be it freedom from old superstition....The structure of Islam is such that the religious leaders wield great influence...and there in lies the real problem!
Posted By Anonymous Gopal Patel....cleveland, oh : 8:19 PM ET
This is not a new situation. We have been and are in a war of cultures. Islam vs western cultures.

The reality is that Islam is NOT a tolerant, freedom loving culture. It authorizes Muslims to 1. convert infidels, or 2. enslave them, or 3. kill them!

We are really in another crusade.
Posted By Anonymous bill, Orlando, Florida : 8:19 PM ET
We have been meddling in the business of Islam and the Middle East for far to long. Freedom of speech and true democracy are OUR way of life. It's high time we stop trying to force that on other cultures. This argument reminds me of reading in history books about the white man trying to make civilized people of "savages" as a way to justify taking Native American's land and forcing European culture on them. Maybe some cultures, like that of Islam, are so dictated by religion and rigorous teachings that they truly cannot tolerate such freedoms as our culture enjoys. Maybe that's why American culture is so hated in much of that area...they do not share in our beliefs of freedom of speech and we should stop trying to make them.
Posted By Anonymous LIZA, huntsville, texas : 8:20 PM ET
"Can Islam co-exist with freedom of speech and freedom of the press?"

No. I don't believe it can co-exist with any civilization that values freedom and human life. I fear that these demonstrations are just a mere hint of what's coming unless we make it clear that when they are in a country, they must respect that country's morals and laws, not the other way around.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Washington DC : 8:20 PM ET
Insensitivity and immaturity are the words that come to mind regarding this latest conflict. It was completely tasteless for the Danish newspaper to 1) print an image of the Mohammed and 2) to do so in such a disrespectful way. Even if the paper was unaware of the Muslim laws toward the issue, for subsequent papers to then REPRINT the cartoon and then hide behind the concept of freedom of speech was ridiculous.

It seems like the papers were just trying to antagonize the muslim world because the western world has IGNORANTLY linked the muslim world with terrorism.

You have to put yourself in the other shoes...how would you feel if someone printed a desecrating picture of your God, your family or something else you revered highly?

I'm not justifying their responses of violence but we have to remember that they are responses. Everyone seems to be naively focusing on the violence without considering what prompted it. For every action, there is a reaction and if you don't like the reaction, you might want to change your first action.

We need to be more sensitive toward one another and we need to take responsibility for our actions!
Posted By Anonymous BF, San Jose, CA : 8:21 PM ET
What right does a muslim in a muslim country have to tell a non-muslim in a non-muslim country how to act. Civilized nations have the right to treat these barbarians with complete contempt. I would ask CNN to collect and display cartoons related to other religions.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Los Angeles, CA : 8:22 PM ET
The reaction to this entire episode just reinforeces the thesis presented by the cartoon. At least this accelerates the worlds understanding of just what a problem we have on our hands. It is not a U.S. thing it is a radical Islam vs. secular society issue. The Al Queda's of the world have been fighting this fight for quite some time. They realize only one version of the truth will win, a secular world or one based on their interpetation of Islam. It does not leave room for middle ground. If nothing else I think it is good that many will now really start to wake-up and realize what kind of battle we are in for. Amazing what a little cartoon will do.
Posted By Anonymous TK, Atlanta, GA : 8:22 PM ET
Hi Anderson

It is heartening to know that you will explore the issue of the riots over the cartoons through the eyes of CNN correspondents on the ground.I suspect the reasons for rioting are manifold, and that the cartoons were a trigger. I would really like to understand the reasons for violence, which perhaps is the best hope in solving violence. I think you have incredible influence, and I hope you can bring more light to this issue from all angles. Many thanks for the work you do, it is much appreciated.
Posted By Anonymous Wang Peiyi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : 8:23 PM ET
Perhaps the issue is broader than the compatibility of Islam and freedom of speech.Perhaps the bigger issue is whether Islam is compatible with a pluralistic society? How can there be a mutual respect of ideas when one side only allows for seeing things one way? How do you reach a compromise? How do you make peace?
Posted By Anonymous Alan, Topanga, CA : 8:24 PM ET
I think the "west" is taking violence in the wrong context here. Rioting, whether religious or otherwise, is a common phenomenon in the "east". The fact that there are riots over this issue is not a reflection upon the Muslim world. Its is just a sad reality that is part of the "east". There are riots beyond imagination over things that are significantly meaningless in countries like India, Srilanka and even China. It is a side effect of social factors and the way of living than anything else.
Do NOT take the violence as an excuse to dismiss the fundamental problem - it was WRONG to publish something that is offensive to 1/5th of the world's population. Admit the mistake and move on.
Posted By Anonymous Ali, Seattle WA : 8:24 PM ET
Let's take 630 or so years off of the current date: 1376 C.E. Freedom of speech wasn't exactly compatible with Christianity then, either.

Of course, any close look at Torah - from which Judaism, Christianity, and Islam draw their common deity, the "God of Abraham" - show clearly that that deity is a war god. So what do people expect, anyway?
Posted By Anonymous John, Jackson NJ : 8:26 PM ET
Absoloutly not. The Islamic people are a very religious people. They take these things very seriously. Christians perhaps realize that in the world today, Kanye West posing as Jesus is not as big of a deal. The Islamic people live in a much different culture than we do, and you must know your audience when doing something like the Mohammed cartoon.
Posted By Anonymous J.D., Auburn,NY : 8:27 PM ET
I find it amusing how so many people posting here generalize a lot of the topics they discuss without actually looking at the underlying causes of the recent events. There seems to be a general consensus on this board that the Muslim world should have protested the 9-11 attacks and someone even called the Muslims hypocrites because they are apparently "choosing" what event to protest against. For one thing, whether you guys beleive this or not, there is a huge difference between a Prophet and everyone else in most peoples' minds. So it is not totally surprising to see this type of behavior, even though I dont approve of it, as a result of making fun of Prophet Mohammad. Secondly, I ask you: to whom were the Muslims to protest to against the 9-11 attacks. The terrorists? That would've worked well...

On a different note, I beleive in freedom of speech but I also beleive in respect for your surroundings. It is just common sense to be mindful of the type of cartoon you are running so that it is not in bad taste. If you want to express your oppinion, then find, write something about it and back up your oppinion. But don't blatantly make fun of something using a cartoon. This is just immature and ignorant.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Wichita, KS : 8:28 PM ET
I don't understand how people can loose their life over cartoons some newspaper in a distant land publishes. Even if they are making fun of your faith. Isn't your life more important than that?
Posted By Anonymous Yves, Houston, Texas : 8:28 PM ET
Yes, the reaction is extreme, but reports are coming in that many of these were peaceful demonstrations hijacked by extremist militants. We do the same thing here, by the way. You can't print the "F word" in a newspaper, for example. Depictions of the prophet in Islamic countries are equally offensive, if not more. Just because you can print it, doesn't mean you should.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan, Austin, TX : 8:29 PM ET
I agree with James Hansen of Spring, TX. Everyone who is trying to understand this should read "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Young, Sydney, Australia : 8:29 PM ET
hey, i am living in a muslim country althugh i am not believing in any religions. but what some people should recognise that people give value different things, if some one put your capitalist economy under threat, you can be more violant than those muslims which is the case in the cold war, you can destroy all the woorld by pushing the button of a missile,,, no body should be so sure about his puirty!!!
Posted By Anonymous fatma, ankara, turkey : 8:30 PM ET
A good example of their all-peaceful Islam, is a sign held by one of their "peace activists", BEHEAD THOSE WHO SAY ISLAM IS VIOLENT.

It's like, if you call me violent, I'll kill you. Sounds kinda funny.

Know Islam, Know Violence
No Islam, No Violence
Posted By Anonymous mike, los angeles,ca : 8:30 PM ET
Let's be intellectually honest. Why I don't agree with the boycotting to remove Daniel from NBC, I have not heard of any attempt to burn the homes or offices of NBC executives, demand the beheading of executives,or indiscriminate violence by Christian groups. Also, no government agency has asked NBC to remove Daniel. If Daniel had good ratings, it would still be on the air. If you can't see the difference, you need to look harder.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Chicago, IL : 8:30 PM ET
This rioting could have very easily been avoided by the newspapers not publishing such controversial cartoons and by everybody practicing something this world is much too short of: tolerance. It is never ok to amuse oneself at the expense of somebody else. Also, without religion there would be no religious fanatics.
Posted By Anonymous Monika, Eagar, Arizona : 8:31 PM ET
Of course Islam can co-exist with freedom of speech. However, we have laws against incitement and hate speech, and that's what the Danish newspaper did. These actions didn't occur in a vacuum, and immigration is a touchy topic in Europe. The newspaper knew exactly what it was doing when it decided to publish the cartoons, and then hide behind "freedom of speech." Anti-Semitism is illegal in Denmark, but Islamophobia is allowed? That's what's causing the riots.
Posted By Anonymous James Ferguson, Bay Shore, NY : 8:32 PM ET
Freedom of speech is a right; at least here in America. I beleive what the previous poster was trying to say was that with the right of free speech, comes the responsibility of that speech. You can have whatever belief you care to have; and vocally share that belief with the world. Just don't expect the world to agree, be pleased, or not take you to task for your expressions. We can and do say many things freely in this great country, just remember that with that freedom of speech comes the responsibility of expressing them.
Posted By Anonymous Paul F. Cocoa Beach, FL : 8:34 PM ET
Imagine this! The U.S. has invaded and is now occupying Iraq, we are trying to force OUR values onto middle eastern countries in the name of "fighting terrorism", and now we are shocked at the rioting that has erupted over a cartoon they probably never would have seen if it weren't for our "spreading democracy". Wake up people, their way of life is ingrained into their very being and has been around a lot longer than ours!
Posted By Anonymous Elisa, Houston Texas : 8:39 PM ET
Islam and freedom of speech are like oil and water, impossible to blend together
Posted By Anonymous Vinay, Raleigh, NC : 8:39 PM ET
This should have been the global reaction when an innocent Muslim wedding party was bombed!
Posted By Anonymous John Cody Ottawa Ontario Canada : 8:40 PM ET
Is our country, culture, etc., becoming so politically correct that we're even considering whether this is justified or whether we should accept it as a norm? The threat to innocent human life and property that comes from the rioting and violence is not a cultural or religious issue, it is a human issue. The Western world's unwillingness to denounce these extremists is extending their power and taking away the voice of peaceful moderate Muslims. This issue with the cartoon is just a small example in the ever-growing problem.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Anderson Douglasville, GA : 8:40 PM ET
No, no way will free speech sit side by side with religious ideology. Here in America we have to deal with Evangelical Christians who cannot deal with other forms of belief outside of their own. We here of television that is not fit for Christian eyes, radio that is blasphemous, art, even educational, scientific and legal standards come under attack as unholy. Every day, we here in America have to fight to protect our right to believe in anything or even nothing at all. Our right to privacy allows for our secular society to exist. Our governmental system orders a separation of government and religion. So that many belief systems may flourish without hindrance. Even the word secular has been affected in the US. Some here believe that a secular society means "with out God" when the exact opposite is true. Many sects or separations or faith with equality for all religions is at the center of the word secular. If only one religion existed within any society the society in question would have to be renamed "mono-secular" or "mono-theistic". So long as any faith remains evangelistic, orthodox, or cult like at their theistic core they will be absolute in their belief that their theology is the only correct theology while all others are the result of some evil influence. This results in war, segregation, bigotry, unwillingness to accept new ideas, and the denial/fear of science or modern technology. Galileo is a great historical example of the constant fight for control of thought by religion.
Posted By Anonymous John D. Prince Chicago, il : 8:41 PM ET
This goes way beyond freedom of speech and reflects the extreme differences between the cultures. There are many people who have no concept of freedoms that we consider basic fundamental rights. This is not just about religious respect either. I think many people are fed up with being looked down upon by the West and have decided that, when it comes to their Prophet, enough is enough.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Nampa, Idaho : 8:41 PM ET
The Information Age disseminates information too fast for conventional "filtering" mechanisms to exercise thier historical level of control. Unwittingly, we all expose ourselves for what we are. The West is exposed as gratuitously insensitive and peurile. The Middle East is exposed as irrationally sociopathic and violent. What a lovely pair.

As Watterson's Calvin once said, the surest sign of intelligent life on other planets is that none of it has tried to contact us....
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Tarsus, VA : 8:41 PM ET
Islam cannot coexist with any other ideology. In many cases it can't even exist with itself. When a group of people hold a thought or an image above all else in the world, including their own lives and those of their families, there is no future for them...or anyone else unlucky enough to be caught up their midieval nonsense.
Posted By Anonymous Steven Block, New York, NY : 8:41 PM ET
Islam can not exist with democracy. By taking muslims into a democracy we are ingesting poison. They enter us only to destroy us. They live to kill anyone who is different than them. They despies liberty, equality, and individual rights of any kind. When they have the right to vote, they vote for the absence of liberty as seen in Iran and other countries.
Posted By Anonymous David, San Antonio, Texas : 9:10 PM ET
Have you ever heard about the word, 'anti-racism', that's what is going on in the press. Do you have anything good to speak about Islam, if not - then you have no right to speak against it. I'm a Muslim and there is no such thing like moderate, extremist or such things. Either you are a Muslim or you are not. We do not make fun about any religion, PERIOD.
Posted By Anonymous Khan, Toronto, Ontario : 9:42 PM ET
I heard on National Public Radio yesterday that Hamas has a new TV show for young children called "Paradise Gardens", our version of Barney or Sesame Street. But on the Hamas version, the children sing, "We will shed our blood for thee, oh Palestine!" Prepping pre-school children for martyrdom?! Now there's something to riot about! Man, how did the world get this crazy?
Posted By Anonymous Paul Rivals, Summit, New Jersey : 9:58 PM ET
I'm a Christian and an American who has learned to compartmentalize the unkind references made about Jesus and to live with the images of those who hate America burn our beautiful flag that symbolizes the freedom I love.

I see the action of flag burning and cartoon publishing in a similar vein. So I certainly can relate to the hurt feelings.


Yet, Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, and to love our neighbors and enemies.

The extreme reaction to this cartoon, makes me mildly interested in seeing what all the big fuss is about, but not badly enough to seek out a copy of it.

I see these Muslim men chanting and throwing rocks and I feel sorry for them and their families. Shouldn't they make their priority taking care of their families. And where are are the moderate Muslims, do they ever stand united?

We only see the radical reactionaries, and it lends to the perception that they are the majority.
Posted By Anonymous Pam, Kansas City : 9:59 PM ET
The war for Freedom & democracy is curently being waiged because of the fundemental fact that Islam and Democracy can Never Co-exist. Islam is the definition of oppression and submition. The word "Islam" or "Muslim" means Surender or Surended so how can any one speak of democracy. The Quran even forbids the friendship of a Jew or a Christian according to the Quran "Al-Maida Vs51".
Posted By Anonymous Ray, Chicago : 10:56 PM ET
Fleming rose said the cartoon was to depict that terrorist use Islam as a way for terrorism. Take a good look at the cartoon it is a bomb in the Prophet Mohammed's head that is not come close to what he was trying to say. Making fun of any religious leader whether it is Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Buddha or any religion for that matter. I can understand how in the west Christ is a popular media but that does not mean the rest of the world is and we should respect that.
Posted By Anonymous Maz, Vancouver, Canada : 10:58 PM ET
Although we are very familiar with the concept of Freedom of Speech, an astounding majority of those in the Islamic world are not familiar with the concept. This is because the totalitarian governments of those countries squelch freedoms, such as those of speech and association, in order to stay in power. This is true of most of America's allies in the region. Although the barbaric images are quite shocking, let us not forget that the perpetrators of violence are but a few hundred, unemployed, repressed individuals, and are in no way representative of the majority of Muslims. If the majority who oppose violence (let's call them the "silent majority") dared criticize the vigilantes, they would surely find their homes raided in the cover of the night and their family member mysteriously gone missing. This is not a Muslim issue, it's a an issue of poverty and lack of democratic institutions, nothing more.
Posted By Anonymous Nima, Los Angeles CA : 11:09 PM ET
What is freedom of speech, if not to attack some idea? Yes, anyone can be insulted every day by some things that are printed, said and even done ... The question is how one chooses to deal with it and react to it. Peaceful demonstrations is one thing ... rioting, vandalizing and killing is totally unacceptable.
Posted By Anonymous Arlene, Dodgeville, WI : 5:35 PM ET
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