A woman holds up a placard that reads in French "I am Charlie" as she and others gather at the Place de la Republique in Paris on Wednesday, following an attack by unknown gunmen on the offices of the satirical weekly paper Charlie Hebdo. (AFP photo/ Joel Saget/Getty Images)

Ten years ago, a Danish newspaper sparked widespread protests and riots after publishing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, something that is generally viewed as prohibited by the Muslim faith.

That same issue is front-and-center again after Wednesday's fatal terrorist attack against a satirical French newspaper that has also run Muhammad cartoons, Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people were killed by masked gunmen during the massacre. The Paris-based newspaper was firebombed in November 2011 after running a Muhammad caricature, and its final tweet before the attack Wednesday was a cartoon of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Where do Americans -- and the broader world population -- come down on the issue of such cartoons and whether the press should run them?

According to polling conducted after the 2005-2006 controversy, they're somewhat conflicted. While Americans pretty strongly condemned the violent responses to the Muhammad cartoons, many also sympathized with Muslims' desire not to have the leader of their faith caricatured.

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll from February 2006 showed 61 percent of Americans said the European newspapers who printed the cartoons acted irresponsibly. A Pew study in June 2006 showed 42 percent of Americans said they were sympathetic to Muslims who were offended by the cartoons. (A majority -- 54 percent -- were not sympathetic.)

But the same Pew survey asked whether people thought the controversy was more about "Muslim intolerance" or "Western disrespect." People chose "Muslim intolerance" by a 3-to-1 margin, 60 percent to 20 percent.

The split was similar in European countries, but Muslims in those same European countries and other heavily Muslim countries overwhelmingly said the controversy was about "Western disrespect."


Pew Global Attitudes Survey

The USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll asked much the same question and found a similar answer: 61 percent of Americans cited Muslims' intolerance, while 21 percent cited a lack of respect from Western nations.

Moreover, a CBS News poll in February 2006 showed people thought that Muslims' reactions to the cartoons were not justified, by a 56-to-9 margin.

And perhaps most important, Americans strongly believed that their media had an obligation to show such controversial items, even if they offend certain religions. Fifty-seven percent said the media should publish them, while 33 percent said they should avoid causing offense, according to USA Today/CNN/Gallup.

At the same time, a terrorist attack casts the issue in much different terms than the 2006 riots and could lead to significantly different reactions.

Scott Clement contributed to this post.