What's the real goal of those leading these protests around the world? It could be more about an upcoming debate at the United Nations than the anti-Muslim film about Islam's Prophet Mohammed.
Addressing the recent unrest, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told member states at the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly they face an urgent agenda, one where calm voices and moderation must prevail.
"We are living through a period of unease. We are also seeing incidents of intolerance and hatred that are then exploited by others. Voices of moderation and calm need to make themselves heard at this time," Ban told the assembly Tuesday.
"We all need to speak up in favor of mutual respect and understanding of the values and beliefs of others. The United Nations must rise to the moment," he said.
But for leaders like Hezbollah's Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, mutual respect means shutting down free speech, a value at the heart of Western democracies.
At a recent gathering of his supporters in Beirut, Nasrallah called on the international community to adopt a law that would prohibit attacks against any "divine" religion.
Each year Muslim nations, often led by Pakistan, propose that the United Nations pass a defamation of religion law. The United States and other Western democracies have beaten back those efforts.
The Hudson Institute's Nina Shea suggests the U.S. government needs to respond by defending free speech.
"The Obama administration has responded very weakly so far," she charged. "In fact, they've given the wrong signal. They've given the signal that they can and will regulate speech on behalf of Islam in America."
"Of course that is not the American way," she said. "Our First Amendment protects free speech, even when some people find it offensive or insulting."