US sides with Muslims in cartoon controversy

Via Reuters:

The United States backed Muslims on Friday against European newspapers that printed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in a move that could help America’s battered image in the Islamic world.

Inserting itself into a dispute that has become a lightning rod for anti-European sentiment across the Muslim world, the United States sided with Muslims outraged that the publications put press freedom over respect for religion.

“These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question.

“We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”

American Muslims welcomed the U.S. position, although it stopped short of urging American media not to republish the cartoons that include depicting Mohammad as a terrorist.

Cooper said he had no comment as to why the United States chose to pass judgment in a dispute that ostensibly does not involve America.

I know a lot of people in the blogosphere are lashing out at the State Dept., but in my opinion a position on a hot button issue like this one would not have been taken by the State Dept. without the approval of the President so if there’s someone to be upset with, it should be him.

On one hand I can see where the US would want to show Muslims that they are ‘sensitive’ to their concerns about this issue – especially considering how some Muslims view us in light of the Abu Ghraib scandal. On the other hand, I seriously doubt the Islamic community would ever take the Christian side in a show of support if the situations were reversed (and I should note that the situation wouldn’t be totally the same on the Christian end because you wouldn’t see Christians going ballistic, making bomb threats, committing acts of terrorism in response to any offense taken over an anti-Christian cartoon).

I think I’d have some sympathy for Muslims regarding the cartoons if they didn’t take to the streets and do things like this and this in protest.

Every once in a while there are issues I blog about in which I haven’t formed an opinion and this is one of those issues. What do you think about the official US position on this controversy?

(Hat tip: Atlas Shrugs)

Update I/Related: Zombietime has a page up that notes depictions of Mohammed through the years. FYI: It’s slow-loading because it contains many, many images.

Update II: Jim in the comments section notes a post from Eugene Volokh which sheds a different light on the US position than the short version Reuters reported.

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