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Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Site for Sore Muslims

MEMRI's Islamist Websites Monitor No. 5 recently reported the following, causing embarrassment, anger, laughter, and disbelief among Muslims, MacUsers, and others:
Apple's "Mecca Project" Provokes Muslim Reaction On October 10, 2006, an Islamic website posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam. According to the message, the cube-shaped building which is being constructed in New York City, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets in midtown Manhattan, is clearly meant to provoke Muslims. The fact that the building resembles the Ka'ba is called "Apple Mecca," is intended to be open 24 hours a day like the Ka'ba, and moreover, contains bars [an entirely misrepresented reference to the advice-offering counters, dubbed Genius Bars by Steve Jobs - Zakintosh] selling alcoholic beverages, constitutes a blatant insult to Islam. The message urges Muslims to spread this alert, in hope that "Muslims will be able to stop the project."
The very next day a more reliable - and certainly a more balanced website than people would expect from one presenting an obviously Islamic viewpoint - offered this piece (from which the excerpt below is taken) by its Editor-in-Chief who writes brilliantly: What if a Muslim in a forest complained about a New York retail outlet he'd never visited? Would it make a sound? If MEMRI weren't around, it wouldn't.
Muslims Aren't Offended By Apple Store By Shahed Amanullah, October 11, 2006 Recently, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) stated that an anonymous Islamic website in the Middle East urged Muslims to show their outrage at the Apple Store in New York City, which built a pavilion coincidentally resembling the cube shape of the Ka'aba, the ancient structure in Mecca towards which all Muslims pray (the actual structure is glass, though MEMRI referenced a black plywood cover during construction). Predictibly, the post brought out cries of indignation from people upset that Muslims would be offended (yet again). But missing in the report was the name of the purported website, why it was considered authoritative on the matter, or any actual offended Muslims (our straw poll garnered a collective shrug, along with much respect for Steve Jobs, himself the son of an Arab). It's not the first time the controversial organisation has selectively framed an issue to show Muslims in a less than positive light.
Among the various comments on the post is this hilarious one, from Zahed: "It is transparent glass with an Apple logo in the middle and looks as much like the Ka'ba as the Pompidou Centre looks like the Great Pyramid. We have heard reports of Apple fans swirling around the cube hoping to touch the sacred symbol in the middle, but that is nothing to do with Islam and is entirely a different sort of creed." Bookmark if you are interested in well-written News and Views, often even considered fairly controversial among Muslims (who, contrary to popular belief, do not come in one flavour). Read one such piece on the Ahmadis. Or, for a sprinkling of what the site offers, start with a look at its gender section.

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Anonymous Vickram said...

To get an idea of just how blasphemous the storefront is, check this out. Needs some bandwidth and patience, but it's in a good cause. How 'bout dem rotten Apples, now?

13 October, 2006 22:12

Anonymous rayhan said...

zakintosh: I wonder if it is the curse of a Seth lover that you have a Vickram comment on all things you write?

14 October, 2006 09:13

Blogger sabizak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 October, 2006 13:46

Anonymous Vickram said...

@rayhan: The choice of name is optional.

I could use Anonymous, and you would still know me by the ineffable quality of my comments, methinks. But it would make it difficult for Zak to respond pithily enough.

But speaking as a relative outsider, what's the significance of Seth, and whence Zak's professed love for this family? Where I come from, Seths are usually Punjabis, and having enjoyed Zak's warm and loving posts in earlier days on the subject of a certain city, I can't help but think that it isn't quite what you had in mind.

14 October, 2006 13:52

Blogger iFaqeer said...

Zak, nice to see your blog! I hadn't thought to go looking.

But please; I cringe at the thought of even the sane people of the world taking MEMRI seriously. God--or your Spiritual/Ideological-Entity-Of-Last-Resort--help us if even you are going to be influenced by them....

[In case you're wondering what I am talking about, I can explain.]

16 October, 2006 12:03

Blogger Zakintosh said...


me take MEMRI seriously? haah! whatever gave you this idea? this is the first time i've heard of them and only because an apple lover sent me their news item ... and it seemed stupider than even what muslims generally come up with ... which is why i decided to include the criticism by alt.muslim (whom i do take seriously).

16 October, 2006 20:27

Anonymous rayhan said...

@sabizak: Only if you have very small hands!

17 October, 2006 17:55

Blogger iFaqeer said...

The problem, ZAK, is that provocations from MEMRI seem to be doing the rounds in Muslim circles online--two in the last week. We already have the Jihad-Dawa-Haraam-Kuffar-Bida-Shirk crowd driving the agenda in the Muslim Community, throw in MEMRI, and we're guaranteed no sanity left.

19 October, 2006 23:45


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