I think he sums it up
The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.
I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive."
Exactly right. I think this is an interesting issue since it deals with the notion of free speech across international borders...doesn't seem to come up much. But if it is a case of international standards, shouldn't we come down on the side of supporting our ideals as much as possible?
And to again try to dispel the idea that the Danes were simply sitting around one day looking for someone to piss off, the publication of the cartoons was in direct response to the inability of an artist to find an illustrator for his children's book. There is a climate of fear in Denmark, and Europe in general, among artists...when you have authors having fatwahs slapped on their heads, and Dutch film directors being murdered
Working from a script written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, van Gogh created the 10-minute movie Submission. The movie deals with the topic of violence against women in Islamic societies; telling the stories of four abused Muslim women. In the film, the women's naked bodies are veiled with semi-transparent shrouds as they kneel in prayer, telling their stories as if they are speaking to Allah. Qur'anic verses unfavourable to women are painted on their bodies in Arabic . After the movie was released in 2004, both van Gogh and Hirsi Ali received death threats. Van Gogh did not take these very seriously and refused any protection - reportedly telling Hirsi Ali: "Who would want to kill the village idiot?" The movie was perceived by the Islamic community as an inaccurate perception of Islamic teachings.
Van Gogh was murdered in the early morning of Tuesday November 2, 2004, in Amsterdam in front of the Amsterdam East borough office on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat streets. He was shot with eight bullets from a HS2000 (a handgun produced in 2000 in Croatia) and died on the spot. His throat was slit, and he was then stabbed in the chest. Two knives were left implanted in his torso, one pinning a five-page note to his body. The note threatened Western governments, Jews and Hirsi Ali (who went into hiding). The note also contains references to the ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra.
So let's please dispense with the idea that the cartoons were the Danes just poking the beehive with a stick for fun.
And Hitchens is right. If you're a Muslim and you want to refrain from drawing Muhammed...go for it. If you tell me I can't, or you'll kill me, well, then you can simply get fucked.