The Western media has not been friendly to Muslims. This well-documented, discussed and understood.
The main problem, as I see it, was not so much that there was criticism of Islam and Muslims, but that — in the Western context — Muslims did not have an adequate platform on which to respond to such criticisms. However, to their credit, some in the “mainstream” English media are now giving voices to “mainstream” Muslims (this still appears, to me, to be a major problem in mainland Europe). And I think Muslims should recognise and welcome this change.
Perhaps the biggest and best experiment in mass blogging, The Guardian’s Comment is free, has given a voice to Muslims across the entire range of Islamic/ate viewpoints. This includes non-religious secularists; Islamists; reformists; representatives of major Muslim organisations; and even to the much-dreaded Hizb al-Tahrir (which is a major irony). Indeed, run through the list of contributors at the blog and see how many “Muslim names” appear.
And the very platfrom from which Ayaan Hirsi WhatsHerFaceName was recently denouncing Islam, On Faith (part of Washington Post), has devoted an entire section of their blog to mainstream figures such as Sh. Ali Gomaa, Sherman Jackson and Timothy Winter.
I should add that many Muslims do not hold back expressing their views on Western society, Christianity, etc. So why ask others to do the same when expressing their views on Islamic beliefs and practices? The danger in demanding voices critical of Islam are muffled by the law have been well explained by Austrolabers, and they have consequences for a Muslim’s own religious beliefs too:
It is quite conceivable, however, that some Christians may take offence to the aggressive style of, say, Ahmed Deedat and claim that his books and lectures vilify their faith (and therefore incite hatred against the Christian people). This is the unfortunate consequence of these sorts of laws [which prevent people from ‘offending’ others]: they are double-edged swords which might just as easily be wielded against Muslim leaders and clerics, as they are now being swung against Christian groups.
Given all this, it is only a matter of time before some Muslims find themselves in the courts answering charges of vilification against Christians, Jews, or any other religion because they have criticised or refuted these beliefs in such a fashion or in such a style as to cause offence amongst one or more adherents. It is also only a matter of time before Islamic books that criticise other faiths put the authors and sellers of such books in the crosshairs of the government. For this reason, amongst many, Muslims should think carefully about whether they support these laws.