Shhhhhhh, we're told. Don't protest the Ground Zero mosque. Don't burn a Koran. It'll imperil the troops. It'll inflame tensions. The "Muslim world" will "explode" if it does not get its way, warns sharia-peddling imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Pardon my national security-threatening impudence, but when is the "Muslim world" not ready to "explode"?
At the risk of provoking the ever-volatile Religion of Perpetual Outrage, let us count the little-noticed and forgotten ways.
Just a few months ago in Kashmir, faithful Muslims rioted over what they thought was a mosque depicted on underwear sold by street vendors. The mob shut down businesses and clashed with police over the blasphemous skivvies. But it turned out there was no need for Allah's avengers to get their holy knickers in a bunch. The alleged mosque was actually a building resembling London's St. Paul's Cathedral. A Kashmiri law enforcement official later concluded the protests were "premeditated and organized to vitiate the atmosphere."
Indeed, art and graphics have an uncanny way of vitiating the Muslim world's atmosphere. In 1994, Muslims threatened German supermodel Claudia Schiffer with death after she wore a Karl Lagerfeld-designed dress printed with a saying from the Koran. In 1997, outraged Muslims forced Nike to recall 800,000 shoes because they claimed the company's "Air" logo looked like the Arabic script for "Allah." In 1998, another conflagration spread over Unilever's ice cream logo -- which Muslims claimed looked like "Allah" if read upside-down and backward (can't recall what they said it resembled if you viewed it with 3D glasses).
Even more explosively, in 2002, an al-Qaida-linked jihadist cell plotted to blow up Bologna, Italy's Church of San Petronio because it displayed a 15th century fresco depicting Mohammed being tormented in the ninth circle of Hell. For years, Muslims had demanded that the art come down. Counterterrorism officials in Europe caught the would-be bombers on tape scouting out the church and exclaiming, "May Allah bring it all down. It will all come down."
That same year, Nigerian Muslims stabbed, bludgeoned or burned to death 200 people in protest of the Miss World beauty pageant -- which they considered an affront to Allah. Contest organizers fled out of fear of inflaming further destruction. When Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel joked that Mohammed would have approved of the pageant and that "in all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them," her newspaper rushed to print three retractions and apologies in a row. It didn't stop Muslim vigilantes from torching the newspaper's offices. A fatwa was issued on Daniel's life by a Nigerian official in the sharia-ruled state of Zamfara, who declared that "the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed. It is abiding on all Muslims wherever they are to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty." Daniel fled to Norway.
In 2005, British Muslims got all hot and bothered over a Burger King ice cream cone container whose swirly-texted label resembled, you guessed it, the Arabic script for "Allah." The restaurant chain yanked the product in a panic and prostrated itself before the Muslim world. But the fast-food dessert had already become a handy radical Islamic recruiting tool. Rashad Akhtar, a young British Muslim, told Harper's Magazine how the ice cream caper had inspired him: "Even though it means nothing to some people and may mean nothing to some Muslims in this country, this is my jihad. I'm not going to rest until I find the person who is responsible. I'm going to bring this country down."
In 2007, Muslims combusted again in Sudan after an infidel elementary school teacher innocently named a classroom teddy bear "Mohammed." Protesters chanted, "Kill her, kill her by firing squad!" and "No tolerance -- execution!" She was arrested, jailed and faced 40 lashes for blasphemy before being freed after eight days. Not wanting to cause further inflammation, the teacher rushed to apologize: "I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone, and I am sorry if I caused any distress."
And who could forget the global Danish cartoon riots of 2006 (instigated by imams who toured Egypt stoking hysteria with faked anti-Islam comic strips)? From Afghanistan to Egypt to Lebanon to Libya, Pakistan, Turkey and in between, hundreds died under the pretext of protecting Mohammed from Western slight, and brave journalists who stood up to the madness were threatened with beheading. It wasn't really about the cartoons at all, of course. Little-remembered is the fact that Muslim bullies were attempting to pressure Denmark over the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision to report Iran to the UN Security Council for continuing with its nuclear research program. The chairmanship of the council was passing to Denmark at the time. Yes, it was just another in a long line of manufactured Muslim explosions that were, to borrow a useful phrase, "premeditated and organized to vitiate the atmosphere."
When everything from sneakers to stuffed animals to comics to frescos to beauty queens to fast-food packaging to undies serves as dry tinder for Allah's avengers, it's a grand farce to feign concern about the recruitment effect of a few burnt Korans in the hands of a two-bit attention-seeker in Florida. The eternal flame of Muslim outrage was lit a long, long time ago.