In response, British officials quickly apologized, and announced that the responsible party had been verbally reprimanded, and shifted to other duties. Note that he wasn't fired, he isn't living in hiding under 24-hour guard, and that the streets did not fill with crowds of ranting Irish and Polish youths demanding his death. There hasn't been an international campaign of violence and intimidation aimed at Englishmen. The bigoted bureaucrat was simply shifted to another job. Hmm.... It almost makes you think that some religions operate differently than others.
Indeed. Not, of course, that I think the "responsible party" (who has been revealed to be a Pakistani, although colleagues have denied that he is a Muslim) should have been fired. Gentle mocking of the Pope, whether one agrees with it or not, falls quite comfortably under the label of legitimate self-expression. But Williams' larger point is key: there have been no death threats against Anjoum Noorani or anyone else involved in the memo's, and there isn't an atmosphere of intimidation around anyone who insults or mocks Christianity in this country, as there is around those who "offend" Muslims (stand up, Mr Rushdie). And just as importantly: while no one was fired over this memo, I do not think it is unreasonable to assume that had a Muslim leader been mocked in this way, or had Islam itself been put under the microscope, a real punishment for Mr. Noorani would have been much more likely.
Hypotheticals aside, what is clear is that our political leaders are quite happy with overt criticism of Christianity, but not at all of Islam - in fact, they tend to cosy up to the very people who pose the greatest threat against them. The reason for this lies, quite obviously, in the difference between the two religions, and our spineless leaders' unwillingness to stand up to the one causing most of the real problems.