First things first, I don't think religion-baiting is particularly smart politics. As Nawaz is a liberal I cannot speak for him, but as a socialist politics is, or should be, about getting as many people into the labour movement as possible. The sharing of common endeavours, of being part of a collective condensation of broadly similar interests as working people, our movement has and remains the most fertile grounds for socialist ideas. This is not an economistic argument either. The labour movement has through a process of struggle become the most consistently anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-homophobic mass social movement in British society. It's not perfect, but it is better than anything else. And that's because the reproduction of sexist, racist and homophobic relations, on the whole, are challenged more often and with more vigour in trade unions, the socialist societies and the Labour Party than anywhere else. Also, crucially, prejudice an bigotry is increasingly contradicted by the collective experiences of working people from all backgrounds. Intersectionality is the trendy word of the now, but the labour movement has been messily, haphazardly, doing it for decades. Therefore I take a dim view of any kind of politics that sets itself up as simon pure atheism, that seems to put a premium on appearing radical over and above encouraging people of faith to get involved in our collective political project. Persuasion is always more useful than denunciation.
Where Nawaz is concerned, there is probably a little bit of impishness at work. I've felt it enough times when I've written or done something my former self would have raged at. As a former Hizb ut-Tahrir, he probably feels a bit naughty sharing a likeness of Muhammad with his social media following. It is taboo after all. Perhaps some Hampstead and Kilburn voters might get turned off the LibDems by these comments. There's plenty of other things going against the yellow party. But I imagine most Muslims - just like everyone else - wouldn't give a toss. It's his choice after all.
And that's the crucial point. In addition to there being traditions within Islam of depicting Muhammad, Nawaz can post cartoons and say what he likes about Islam and any other religion. Ophelia Benson is absolutely right. The image of Islam and the popular perception of Muslims are ill-served by idiotic comments, like Galloway's, that convey an impression that all Muslims are tetchy and intolerant. By the same token, fools have the right to say foolish things. They might be guided by what they see as the best of intentions, but it can lead to the worst of outcomes. The freedom of religion - a right I assume Galloway upholds - always includes the freedom to criticise religion. Always.