whenever anyone criticises another religion (including atheists), extreme members of said religion threaten the critic - whether it be a cartoonist or a pope quoting from 500 years ago.
I get very disappointed when the critic then apologises - the _point of both of these criticisms was that there are extremists in religions (and elsewhere), not that all members of said group are extremists - if you listen to the threats from the extremists, and respond, you are _appeasing_ extremists.
Do not appease people that use religion as a cover to threaten you - i dont care if its muslims or the israeli defense force, the pope or bush - if I say they did something wrong, and I believe I am right, then I don't see why I would change my view about a subset of them because of threats - seems like bordering on hypocrisy.
Of course, the Pope (and the catholic cheurch) have a history of apeasement (e.g. Nazis in second world war), so I guess one shouldnt be surprised:( Before anyone starts protesting in the UK (or most of europe) they ought to remember that most EU countries are secular, and the pope speaks for very few people - next time the muslims protest about something the pope says, do it in africa or south america where most of his followers are as it will have more effect -
of course, its hard for religious states (esp. extreme ones under sharia law) to understand that there are secular states, let alone states where any individual can say what she likes about stupid muslims, israelies, chrsitans, zoroastrians and agnostics, and not represent anyone else or any organisation or even any consensus - we are allowed to talk rubbish if we like - if you listen to it, and worse, react to it, it reflects more on you then on the speaker:)