If I go in a Mosque, I am sensitive to the traditions that I find within. If I enter a Muslim household, I do not give a portrait of the prophet to hang on the wall.
In return, I do not expect Muslims to impose their traditions and beliefs on the wider society.
The edict not to display a portrait of the prophet is that of idolatry. It dates from the Old Testament of not worshipping graven images and from the prophet writing that he who displayed a portrait in his house would not be visited by angels.
And yet, there has been exceptions.
The Moguls of the Middle Ages had portraits of the prophet. Enter a Mosque in Tehran and you will find the prophet, with his facial features scratched out.
The current furore has its origins in a children's book to explain the prophet and Islam. No one could be found to illustrate the book for fear of a Muslim backlash.
The cause was taken up by a newspaper that commissioned 12 cartoons. This was four months ago, the cartoonists have since gone into a hiding for fear of their lives.
Why the reaction now, four months later? Why Denmark, a liberal, tolerant society with a good environmental record?
The campaign is being coordinated from Saudi Arabia.
Twenty five years ago the film Death of Princess was shown. It was not shown in Denmark due to pressure from Saudi Arabia. Denmark is seen as the weak link in Europe.
Muslim extremists have gone from Denmark to the Middle East to fan the flames of fanaticism and religious hatred. They have carried with them the 12 cartoons, cartoons which apparently were so offensive that they could not be shown, but they were happy to carry with them on their person to be sure that more Muslims would see the cartoons. They also carried with them three more cartoons, cartoons that were bestial drawings of the prophet. Drawings that had never been published in Denmark.
They also carried the message that Mosques in Denmark were being attacked and burnt to the ground.
Muslim extremists in Denmark have appeared on Danish TV calling for calm and reconciliation, in their Mosques and on Al Jazeera, they have called for Danish boycotts and action against Denmark.
There has been a tendency to appease Muslim extremists in the hope the problem will go away or for fear of inflaming the situation.
The Police and CPS fell over backwards not to take action against the self-proclaimed Muslim cleric at the Finsbury Park Mosque. When has anyone known the Met Police Territorial Support Group to be shy at making arrests, yet at the weekend, they stood idly by whilst Muslim extremists took to the streets?
The irony has to be that it has been the outcry from decent Muslims that is now forcing the Police to take action against the extremists who were on the streets over the weekend baying for blood.
And that is the silver lining in this very dark cloud.
Muslims, better that anyone else, especially those who have fled or have friends and relatives in less tolerant societies, realise where we are heading. They have seen the bloodbath we are sleepwalking into. Yes, they can see the offence the cartoons can cause, but they also understand the values of a liberal and tolerant society. They recognise that it is the extremists that are causing the backlash against Islam, not a few silly cartoons.
Muslims are now speaking out against the extremists. They must be supported in what they are doing as they do so at risk to their own lives. They are speaking out in the same way as a few brave Germans spoke out against the Nazis.
In Denmark, 300 Muslims mounted a demonstration outside the Parliament against the extremists and fundamentalists.
A Danish Muslim Member of Parliament, has not only spoken out, he has also exposed the activities of Danish Muslim extremists in the Middle East. As a result he now has to be accompanied by bodyguards, even when in Parliament.
Denmark: In the eye of a cartoon storm, BBC Radio 4, 9 February 2006
Keith Parkins, Clash of civilisations, Indymedia UK, 7 February 2006
Thomas Wilkins, Double standards in dealing with Islam, letters, The Times, 7 February 2006