The Muslims who have recently been demonstrating and agitating in Norway in reaction to the publication of a Muhammed cartoon in Dagbladet should be asking themselves: What is it about us Muslims that causes so much hubbub? Why don't any other groups occupy as much space in the public square, in public debate, as we do? Why do we so often represent ourselves as victims, as having been offended, and react with aggression?
Sunday, February 14, marked the 21st anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's death fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing the book The Satanic Verses — a fatwa that marked the beginning of the contemporary confrontation between Islam and the Christian world. As Kenan Malik notes in his book From Fatwa to Jihad, Peter Mayer, who was then the CEO of Rushdie's publishing house, Penguin, understood instantly how important the publisher's public reaction would be, insisting that the firm take the long view. To give in now, he recognized, would be only to encourage future acts of terrorism by people who, for whatever reason, objected to the contents of some book or other.