In September, a Danish newspaper published 12 editorial cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. In one image, the founder of Islam was shown with a bomb for a turban; in another, he was depicted as a fanatical militant. The controversy over the images has spread throughout the Arab world; in February it broke out in a conflagration of violent protests against Denmark in particular and the West in general.
At the heart of the problem lies a clash of values: the West's focus on freedom of expression versus the sanctity of Mohammed for Muslims. When does free expression cross the line into the world of mortal offense? The answer, clearly, is different in different countries. In the Muslim world, any depiction of the Prophet Mohammed is seen as blasphemy -- but the problem is certainly not the province of Islam alone. Artists throughout the ages have been in the hot seat because of their choices to depict Jesus and other Christian icons.
Like a flaming oil well, the rage currently on view is testament to the depth and power of the fuel below -- in this case, the anger of the Muslim world with a West that seems likely to keep setting off sparks as it protects its own deeply held values.
Click on the DW-WORLD links below to find out more about the controversy.