The Islamic value — and it a worthy one on its own terms and would certainly have been understandable to our western predecessors who punished blasphemy very severely — of prohibiting insults to the Prophet of Islam clashes directly with the modern western value of free expression. To the western eye (and it’s a perspective I share), a murderous riot in the name of a religion is a worse sin and deeper, uglier form of blasphemy than any film could ever hope to be. To kill someone created in the image of God because you don’t like the way God or one of his servants has been depicted in an artistic performance strikes westerners as an obscene perversion of religion — something that only a hate-filled fanatic or an ignorant fool could do.In general I have little enough tolerance for that sort of person who wants to offend for the pure joy of showing how smart they think they are. It's hard not to sympathize with the Muslim over the atheist who decided it would be clever to portray "Zombie Muhammad," for example. These guys are jerks, and I have no desire to end up on their side.
This Coptic Christian fellow seems better placed, because he has a genuine grievance: the Copts have suffered badly (as, sadly, have Iraqi Christians in the wake of our invasion there). The Coptic position isn't just looking for trouble for the pure joy of hunting up trouble: they have been badly handled over the last few years, and especially since the fall of the Egypt we long knew. Yet all the same, he set out to make people angry, to blaspheme as hard as he could.
We're in a bad position: supporters of democracy, but holding some 'basic truths' about the necessary conditions for democracy that few in the region believe exist. The Establishment clause is ours, not theirs; although, as it appears, we may be on the verge of making an exception to it parallel to the one they want. Islam alone may be commanding a special place as worthy of state protection, even here.