Muslims for Secular Democracy, a group of eminent Muslim scholars and intellectuals in India, the country with Muslim population second to Indonesia, have mustered courage to demand prosecution of a provincial minister who announced a US $ 12 million bounty for the murder of the Danish cartoonist in the cartoon wars. The signatories to the statement included noted literary figure Javed Akhtar. The statement said that the minister’s remarks openly incited Muslims to violence. “Such calls, made by politicians with an eye on the Muslim vote, have done more damage to Islam and Muslims than the original offenders against whom they protest.” The signatories to the statement are not alone in this regard. Even in the theological countries of Middle East, in a direct challenge to the international uproar over cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, the Jordanian journalist Jihad Momani wrote: “What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras, or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony?” In Yemen, an editorial by Muhammad al-Assadi condemned the cartoons but also lamented the way many Muslims reacted. “Muslims had an opportunity to educate the world about the merits of the Prophet Muhammad and the peacefulness of the religion he had come with,” Mr. Assadi wrote. He added, “Muslims know how to lose, better than how to use, opportunities.” To illustrate their points, both editors published selections of the drawings – and for that they were arrested and threatened with prison. Mr. Momani and Mr. Assadi are among 11 journalists in five countries facing prosecution for printing some of the cartoons. Their cases illustrate another side of this conflict, the intra-Muslim side, in what has typically been defined as a struggle between Islam and the West. The flare-up over the cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper, has magnified a fault line running through the Middle East, between those who want to engage their communities in a direct, introspective dialogue and those who focus on outside enemies. The heated emotions, the violence surrounding protests and the arrests have sent a chill through people, mostly writers, who want to express ideas contrary to the prevailing sentiment. It has threatened those who contend that Islamic groups have manipulated the public to show their strength, and that governments have used the cartoons to establish their religious credentials. “I keep hearing, ‘Why are liberals silent?’ ” said Said al-Ashmawy, an Egyptian judge and author of books on political Islam. “How can we write? Who is going to protect me? Who is going to publish for me in the first place? With the Islamization of the society, the list of taboos has been increasing daily. You should not write about religion. You should not write about politics or women. Then what is left?” In Jordan, authorities moved quickly to release the journalists from detention. Some of the world’s most renowned Islamic religious leaders and scholars recently issued a declaration that, though sharply critical of the drawings, sought to rein in the violence and cautioned Muslims against becoming international pariahs. In so doing, they have begun to echo the sentiments of the journalists facing criminal charges.”We appeal to all Muslims to exercise self-restraint in accordance with the teachings of Islam,” the statement said. It added that “violent reactions” can lead to “our isolation from the global dialogue.” The arrested Jordanian journalist said that it was the work of journalists to inform, and that he did so after speaking to many people who were outraged. Mr. Momani expressed exasperation when asked why he printed the cartoons. He insisted that it was seeing the cartoons. “I am telling my people, ‘Be rational, think before you go into the streets,’ ” he said. “Who harms Islam more? This European guy who paints Muhammad or the real Muslim guy who cuts a hostage’s head off and says, ‘Allah-u akbar?’ Who insults our religion, this guy or the European guy?” The cartton wars have become milestones in the long thirteen century old history of Islam when at least a section of Muslims are voicing their protest at the growing extremism among Muslims.