Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That's Insulting!!

It seems that someone is always insulting Islam, doesn't it? Even when they're not. At least that's the view of Kemal Silay, an Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Professor at Indiana University, writing for TCS Daily. Silay, himself a Muslim, looks at a trumped up charge levelled against the Fifth Avenue Apple Store by an Islamist website, and says "the Islamist thought police" are "foolishly and maliciously" interpreting the architectural design of the store as "blatant insult to Islam." The store, you see, is in the shape of a cube, and thus too closely resembles the building in Mecca towards which Muslims pray. Even worse, customers sometimes refer to it as the "Apple Mecca." Could an insult to a religion get any more blatant? After all, the building couldn't possibly be designed to pay homage to the cube shaped computer that Apple put out in the nineties, and calling it the "Apple Mecca" couldn't refer to the fact it's the place to which Apple customers are drawn because of all it offers. Nope, it must be an insult to Islam. (Of course, as a Christian, I often get offended this way myself. I frequently find telephone poles an insult to Christianity, and have considered throwing a riot or two in protest.)

Silay is not happy with the Islamist ability to see insult where none is intended, and even where it is intended, makes it clear that he would rather his fellow Muslims spent their time more productively:

While Western civilization is inventing scientific and artistic marvels, the other wings of Islamism are preoccupied with inventing provocations in the hope of mobilizing otherwise ordinary Muslims. We have seen this before: the Muhammad cartoon controversy exhibited the same faulty reasoning but unfortunately it succeeded in turning thousands of Muslims to violent protests. This latest incident is one more in a growing list of examples of Muslims over-reacting, over- and mis-interpreting, jumping to conclusions and causing controversy over something innocent or innocuous.
Silay sees Islamism as the threat to Islam, rather than the Apple Store and other Western objects Islamists try to co-opt as tools in the propaganda wars. He rightly calls Islamism "the most dangerous global phenomenon of our time." Have a look at the rest of the article, if only to support the efforts of moderate Islam. I often want to pass on things like this when I find them, because I am always encouraged to see reasonable Muslim voices speaking out to counter the Islamist agenda. We need more of them, and we need to encourage their participation in the public forum. I know I'm risking "insult to Islam" by doing so, but since by some standards I insult Islam on a daily basis anyway by being a Christian, it's a risk I can live with.

Note: Sorry about the sarcasm on this one--although not sorry enough to rewrite this post. I'm apparently just in one of those moods. I'll try to tone it down now, though. Maybe.