I feel obligated to formulate some sort of opinion about the Danish Muhammad illustrations because I am the closest thing to a Moslem that most of my friends and colleagues know. Though my parents call themselves Moslem, I really had a secular upbringing born and raised here in Canada, and would call myself atheist. In my more zealous moods, I might be classified a humanist.
As a result, I may have some of my facts wrong about Islam, despite my attempts at fact-checking. I am finding conflicting opinions on the prohibition of images of the Prophet. I have seen images of the Prophet in Persian books on display in a museum in Barcelona last year. It is possible that Shi'a and Sun'ni moslems view the restriction differently. I will relay more to you as I attempt to confirm these facts. In the meantime, at left is a page from an Afghan manuscript with an illustration titled "Journey of the Prophet Muhammad" that I found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.
I found this helpful article at BBC Online deconstructing the 12 images. Now I understand why there is an orange in the turban of author Kare Bluitgen's caricature.
Prime Minister Chirac has warned against republishing the images and condemned their publication as "overt provocation." Denmark's prime minister stupidly alleged to the BBC that "it was not for the government to censor the media." Western democracies do it all the time to prevent libel, defamation, or incitement to hatred. For example, it is illegal to publicize denials of the holocaust in Germany.