Ahmed Tharwat appears to have missed the point of freedom of expression ("Shouting fire in the global theater," Sept. 20). Ironically, it's that same freedom that got his commentary published in the Star Tribune.

Tharwat may be correct that many Americans lack a true understanding of the Arab world or of Islam itself. But while many in the United States may view that region with blinders on, Tharwat has shown that his own view of Western culture is also lacking in understanding.

His take on that despicable film was to call it a "self-image" of Western culture involved in decadence and immoral sex-mania. He blithely dismisses the death of a dedicated diplomat as "unfortunate," and brushes off the right to freedom of expression by making a blanket claim that the Muslim world respects the prophets of Judeo-Christian heritage.

The truth is that Arab media is full of programming that deplores Christianity and Judaism. Many in the Arab media have called for holy war against all Christians as well as outright genocide of the Jewish people. We've heard this one before. Tharwat's statements concerning American foreign policy contain an air of truth to them, but his grasp of Western thought leaves much to be desired.