Religious studies researcher Kari Vogt at the University of Oslo, just back from a trip to Marocco, says moderates there reminded her that incidents like this "provide ammunition to hard-liners who are opposed to press freedoms in Muslim countries" (article in Norwegian).
That is a good point. There may have been many practical reasons why publishing such cartoons was a bad idea. But now that is has been done it's important that the West does not back down. This is an opportunity for citizens of the Muslim world to educate themselves about the mechanics of Western-style liberal democracy (specifically, that governments do not have the power to censor the press).