The Japan Times Online Articles
I do welcome the Japanese Foreign Ministry's call to the media not to run recently controversial cartoons that paint a derogatory image of Muhammad ("peace and blessings of God be upon him"), the holy prophet of Islam. It is rather unfortunate that the ministry's advice comes from the fear of attacks on Japanese institutions worldwide, rather than because of respect for the prophet. While the Japanese press has the freedom to publish, I would hope that it has the sense of responsibility to respect leaders of all sorts in society.
I would hope that the following incident from the life of the prophet would be a guiding light: Once the prophet declined to enter the house of one of his followers, since it would have made him step over an old idol that the follower used to worship before becoming a Muslim. The follower was asked to respect the idol in an appropriate way as long as there was at least one person on the planet who worshipped it. While strongly admonishing idol worship, the prophet instructed Muslims to be mindful of the sentiments of those who worshipped idols.