Moved by various things, a while back I started reading about Islam. No, I haven't gotten around to the Koran; probably will later. One of the things that got me started(kind of like researching HIV/AIDS) was a post at Dean's World. Couple of days ago he did this one. Basic content: anyone who thinks Islam doesn't have tolerance for other faiths and calls for violence toward them is a: bigoted and b: ignorant and hasn't actually studied it.
Well, I've been studying it, and one of the problems I've found with the 'tolerant Islam' idea is this: there were, in the early writings of Mohammed, various bits about 'tolerate the other people of the Book', i.e. Christians and Jews. This didn't keep him from sending people to murder and torment them when it suited him, but pass that for now. Problem is the lastbook of the Koran, Swords(I believe; not digging the book up now to find it). I calls for all unbelievers to be given three choices; convert, pay the tax(which also involved becoming- at best- a step above a slave), or die. Period. And from what I've read, pretty much every Islamic scholar agrees that this last book abrogates every contrary statement in any earlier book; in other words, giving 'tolerance' to other faiths is no longer allowed, the three choices is it.
And giving various quotes from the Bible and saying "See?!? Christians are of a hate-mongering religeon, too according to this!" doesn't cut it. A: nobody except a few nutcases, condemned by everyone else, uses these bits to justify harming others and b: from what I recall(long time since I actually read the thing) these are generally speaking of particular fights. "We're about to fight the Amalekites, after what they've done show them no mercy", type stuff. It never, to my knowledge, calls to go out and kill everyone who doesn't convert.
And that last is the problem. I know there are a lot of Muslims out there who do NOT agree with that. They'll argue the merits of their faith, and if someone is interested try to talk them into converting; no problem. They consider their faith the 'proper' one; no problem. Problem is, there are a whole lot, maybe a majority, who either fully agree with the three choices or aren't willing to publicly disagree with them. And they believe they have the privilege of telling every other society how they will be allowed to speak and act, in particular when it touches on their faith. And that doesn't work here, and it damn well shouldn't.
Side point: One of the things that's been disgusting in this is the double standard shown by many places, Britain in particular. It's been pointed out that(among others) when a bunch of people peacefully protesting the banning of fox hunting showed up to demonstrate, they were flatly attacked by police. No threats of death, no 'we will destroy this country' signs, and they were abused. Nutcase mooselimbs march threatening death and destruction, specifically calling for the murder of people, and all the cops do is take pictures and stand around. Besides the general problem with this, the people pushing this crap see it as weakness that the Brit government doesn't even try to enforce the law against them. And it is..
Getting back to my point, the unpleasant fact is that to probably a majority of the Muslims in the world, the 'three choices' and 'death to anyone who we think offends against Islam' teachings are their True Faith, and they want to enforce it. Against everyone. And calling anyone who points this out a bigot or ignorant or islamophobe doesn't cut it.