There's something to be said about freedom of expression. It might be serve as a check on authority. It may disseminate ideas and fashions. But as with all the nascent tools of humanity there is a limit to its application. We in Singapore set the limit too low. In Denmark and the utopian nations of Scandinavia, that limit requires some revision. Not to say that flag-burning and arson is justified as a backlash against a cartoon that is, after all, the brainchild of not more than the minutest representative of the Danish population, but freedom of anything is a dangerous thing. Unchecked, it can lead to chaos and disaster, abstractions that are all too chillingly real - and which have uncanny parallels to the ways in which fashions and modes of thought percolate, often among the very same channels.
Islam has often been labelled intolerant. True, insofar as it goes, but all religions share some measure of this unfortunate attribute; it is, after all, the imperative of their existence. Religions are coloured by their cultures of origin, of the early proponents of its doctrine. Islam's ideology is not dissimilar to pre-Lutheran Christianity, where the Church dominated a Europe steeped in religious inflexibility. This was the world where witches were burnt at the stake for the slightest transgression and scholars were persecuted for beliefs that did not conform with the views of the Church. The Islamic world, while considerably more mature and humane than the Christianity of that era, perhaps needs time before it can shed its image, no doubt aided by the inimical activities of self-styled jihadi terrorists. Like all religions, it often resides before the present, a symbol of antiquity predating the silicon world of the modern age. Unlike Christianity, much of whose influence has percolated with the Imperial winds of British domination, Islam has had less of a chance to expose itself to the world at large. And thus misconceptions have been formed with regards to it, misconceptions, that when dispelled reveal a religion perhaps having the potential to be as powerful and influential as Christianity itself.