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.Quote has been trimmed
"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 the end, political analysts around the region say that governments have resorted to the very practices that helped the rise of Islamic political forces in the first place. They have placated the more extreme voices while arresting and silencing more moderate ones.
Jihad Khazen, a columnist for the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat, said: "The Islamists wanted to prove their strength. The government replied in kind, saying that we are all Muslims and we care about our religion, and I think the truth was trampled on in the process."
"The feelings of the Muslims are being exploited for some purpose," said Adel Hammoude, editor in chief of Al...