Almost one can time the reaction of Muslims to whatever they don't like to hear about their Religion. The screams, effigy and flag burnings, and pure rampage to what comes in the way of the mob which exhibits an emotional outrage -by now stock cliche- far beyond what the offence warrants in normal humans! Anyone with access to public media, particularly in the West, can trigger a chain reaction from Muslims, by saying few silly remarks about Islam or the Prophet, scrawling some caricatures or just mere stupid provocations, only God perhaps is able to predict and confine its consequences.
Once again the angry crowds have taken to the streets, this time, to protest against Pope Benedict XVI's true but untimely quote. In a speech, in his alma mater, the University of Regensburg, in Germany, on "Faith and Reason!" The Pope in criticizing the West for submitting itself too much to reason, has quoted from a dialogue that took place in early 15th century between the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and unnamed Persian scholar. In the exchange the Emperor supposedly asked his interlocutor: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Apart from the unfortunate wording, no one who has a rudimentary knowledge of Islamic history will dispute the content. From the Battle of Badr on, in which Muhammad himself participated, across three continents the soldiers of Islam carried the banner of Faith in one hand and the sword in the other.[The birth place of Islam, Saudi Aarabia, still has the first pillar of the Faith and the sword on its flag!]. The battles to convert the heathen and against infidels had multiplied: from Yarmuk to Qadissiya, and on across North Africa to the Iberian peninsula and beyond. The Armies of the nascent state had stopped their march across Europe at Poitiers, in France, and latter on the Gates of Vienna, in Austria. Most of the early expansions north, west, and east of Medina was on the expense of the Byzantine and Persian Empires. Most of the venerated names in our history were Generals who carried the campaigns of "openings" exhorting the soldiers to fight for the glory of God, for conquests, and for the spoils too: Khalid Ibn al-Waleed, Amro Ibn al-As, Uqba Ibn Nafi', Tariq Ibn Ziad, etc had all laid siege to whatever cities came across their way until either accepting Islam or being put to sword and sacked....
All societies, particularly those who have been around since the dawn of history, have had and perhaps still keep skeletons in their closets that they'd like to keep away from others to snoop in. A contest of histories have not been held yet and even if it's no one is sure who will come out clean or at least the winner. The Church's blunders were uncountable, so do other faiths and ideologies. Let's not be finicky and pick and choose but rather be frank and put a lid on a lot of what had happened and we're, in the ideal world, sorry to be the successors to.
Going back into the past, as Guntar Grass reminds us, is like peeling an onion, uncovering layer after layer, one may find unpleasant things which could put one in tears but worse can bring havoc and mayhem, as the Moslem masses are in the habit of wrecking. There's no point in trying to deny history or to try to find justifications for its sometimes unpleasant quirks, turns, and twists. We don't choose history, we live with its consequences. It's good also to keep in mind that Islam, as the youngest of the breed of Monotheistic Religions, considers itself to be the last edition of God's literal words, and thus considers the other two versions, practically null and void, and the rest of the religions are mere farce. This is a big burden to live with and a huge task to carry on particularly when the followers of Islam are turning into what Fanon had called the wretched of the earth and their lands are, in Conrad's words, the heart of darkness!
The present struggle ain't between Western civilization and Islamic civilization. That's a false dichotomy since Islam's pretension to civilization had long stopped and its river dried out before even contemporary civilization had seen the light. Islam is, today, in the best, a vestige to once great civilization, which for all practical purposes, had gone, or as if it was on another planet, non-existent. The only civilization is what keeps us fed, clothed, and screaming. It's the contemporary universal civilization, and thanks to West for starting it. The refusal of Muslims to recognize this fact, as the Chinese, Indians, etc., have been doing, is what keeps them at loggerheads with the rest of the world.