One such attempt is that of Talal Asad, who offers an explanation of distinctively Muslim attitudes to free speech, blasphemy, and anti-religious satire. His analysis stresses the sanctity of private thought in the Islamic tradition - religious and government authorities will not inquire into individual's hidden motives and beliefs, scrutinizing them for heresy - as opposed to freedom to express thoughts in public. According to Asad, Islam differs from Christianity in its commitment to the privacy of thought. However, it does not protect attempts to seduce the thoughts of others away from their bond with God, their responsibility to coreligionists, and what it sees as metaphysical and moral truth. In Islam, so Asad assures us, such "seduction" is regarded as a kind of violence; it is dangerous to individuals and the social order, threatening discord and violence. For Muslims who take this seriously, "it is impossible to remain silent when confronted with blasphemy … blasphemy is neither 'freedom of speech' nor the challenge of a new truth but something that seeks to disrupt a living relationship."
Saba Mahmood takes a different, though perhaps complementary, approach. She describes a special form of pain felt by (some) pious Muslims, which amounts to a sense of personal loss and sorrow when confronted by ridicule of the Prophet. On this account, the loss and sorrow relate to Muhammad's role as a moral exemplar, someone to be imitated in many of the quotidian aspects of life - such as how he walked, slept, spoke, ate, and dressed. Thus, these Muslims respond to ridicule of the prophet not with anger that a moral interdiction has been violated, but with a sense of having been violated and wounded. Like many other commentators, Mahmood also insists that such phenomena as the Danish cartoons involve an element of "racism" - extending this idea beyond biological notions of race to groups marked by religious and cultural characteristics. This characterization tends to undermine the value of satire directed at Islam, or at radical forms or manifestations of Islam, associating it with mere racial slurs, a form of speech that many of us see as essentially worthless.
How should a secular state respond to these analyses, which appear in Talal Asad, et. al., Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech, Townsend Center/University of