Cultural Rift Fuels Muslim Protest

The protests in the past week betrayed a deep divide between the West and the Muslim world regarding some of America’s most deeply held freedoms, in particular freedom of speech. “We never insult any prophet—not Moses, not Jesus—so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?” one protester in Cairo said, summing up the indignation that seems to have fueled many demonstrators, some of whom engaged in violence. Misunderstandings about freedom of speech are widespread in the Mideast—in Egypt, for example, it is common opinion that there are laws in the United States banning people from talking about the Holocaust.