Editor’s note: The following remarks were delivered by David Kelley, founder of The Atlas Society, on  May 14, 2005, at the March against Terror, sponsored by the Free Muslims Coalition. They are republished now in the face of the advances and threats posed by ISIS.
One of the common refrains in commentary about the Islamic Middle East, especially since September 11, is that Islam needs a Reformation. This analogy with the Protestant Reformation in 16th-century Europe is intended to suggest that a similar movement within Islam would counter the fundamentalism of Islamic extremists, strengthen religious freedom, and lead to something like the separation of church and state.
There are people whose jobs require some degree of worst-case thinking. I am one of them. Whole teams of threat assessment practitioners in my firm Gavin de Becker and Associates, spend their time developing contingency plans and responses to cover a variety of unfavorable outcomes.
NEW YORK CITY — In February of this year, the Danish newspaper Politiken issued a formal apology for republishing a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed clad with a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse. Politiken’s sister newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, had originally published the cartoon in 2005, along with 11 others of Mohammed. The publication of the cartoons was notoriously followed by violent protests and death threats from Muslims the world over. In issuing an apology, Politiken was in effect settling a lawsuit brought against them by 94,923 alleged descendants of the prophet.
The West once again has been forced to confront the clash of cultures. Muslims worldwide rage and riot over Danish newspaper cartoons that, in their eyes, commit the double sin of depicting Mohammad and satirizing him disrespectfully. Many Muslims consider any illustration of their prophet to be an insult to their religion. Of course, other religions often find their ideas and icons satirized or criticized. Yet rarely do they respond with death threats, riots, arson, and murder. 

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