Originally Posted by el güero
I don't understand what is so strange about the protests being organized. If you go to a public demonstration against or in defence of anything, it is probably organized, and the cartoon protests make no exception. IMO that does not delegitimize the protests or make them less credible. Who says otherwise is being in danger of representing a stereotypic image of the Muslims being irrational, acting "affectionately" or being manipulated by other people. Demonstrating is not a spontaneous act made in a flash of rage (as the media images make easily believe) but a rational decision to raise one's voice.
To answer your question you need to take a look in what countries these protests are arranged- Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Indonesia etc. These are not exactly democracies and the reason for which these countries have fueled the protests is quite simple and has already been mentioned. In dictatorships to help ease local tensions cropping up from the masses it is in those governments best interest to fire up the masses on such issues which will let them vent their anger and unhappiness on issues not connected with how brutal or cruel the regime in that country is.
As you correctly pointed out, demonstrations are not spontaneous acts made in a fit of rage and the upper hierachy of various regimes are anything but spontaneous and therefore have carefully and shrewdly organized the protests by adding more fuel to the fire.
What comes to the flag burning, that is clearly a symbolic act and one directed to the media. The protesters are well aware that acts like these draw attention from the tv-cameras and gets them more publicity. So, if they want to get a wider audience for their demonstration, it is perfectly rational to wait for a flag order to arrive.
So if I was to log on, activate my webcam and start burning the Finish flag in front of you that would be alright then? There is a reason why in civilized countries it is illegal to burn flags and dismissing it simply as a 'symbolic' act is ridiculous. Try burning the Iranian or Syrian flag in the street I assure you that act would carry a lot more weight than mere 'symbolism' in the eyes of those concerned.