In the past days Muslims across the world have objected to a Danish newspaper running a series of cartoons that were deemed offensive to Islam. Danish embassies have been threatened, Danish goods boycotted etc. This has been the case in the past two decades with anything that was deemed to be taking Islam lightly, or anything that was deemed offensive. Islam is sacred and should not be talked about except for with total and absolute respect. On the other hand many Muslims do not see themselves responsible to respect the value systems of others with the same strictness.
Muslims may set fire to American flags (sacred to many Americans), call unbelievers najiss (impure), make racist remarks with regards to Jews etc. If the holocaust is a sensitive issue to the Jewish people, denying its existence by the Iranian president is met either with low-key encouragement or with implicit consent within the Muslim world. One could say this type of hypocrisy is also true of other religions and systems of beliefs (fundamentalists of other creeds need not take advantage), but in the case of Muslim communities it is quite prominent. The Fatwa against Rushdie (for one of his worst books that became best-selling because of the Fatwa), the threats against Aziz Nasin in Turkey, to the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the threats against countless intellectuals who intentionally or inadvertently managed to offend Islam are illustrations of the non-tolerance of Muslims with regards to their beliefs. This non-tolerance in my view illustrates the existence of a deep insecurity towards internal and external challenges.
There are three major consequences of this attitude. The first is without any room for challenging the sanctity of all aspects of Islam, there is little room for discussions and/or reformation. The second is that a lot of unhealthy dynamics that have evolved over the past 14 centuries through the interactions of Islam with various societies continue unquestioned and are considered part of a sacred tradition. What is sacred is beyond analysis. The third and most important consequence is that in applying the unquestioning surrender principle (Islam means surrendering to god's will) to crucial aspects of personal and social life, Muslim communities rarely encourage strong critical thinking skills within their members. This has had disastrous results for human rights and social welfare, as the current state of Muslim communities across the world demonstrates.
Muslims may succeed to force non-Muslims (or even enlightened Muslims) in not offending their religion by threatening them with assassinations, bombs and bullets, but increasingly they have a harder time to sell Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance. In fact sincere respect is rarely gained through initimidation.