TCS Daily


Is Apple Computer Insulting Islam?

By Kemal Silay - November 14, 2006 12:00 AM

Last month the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that "an Islamist website posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam" [MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series, No. 1315]. As reported by MEMRI, the Islamist site claims that the Apple Store, Fifth Avenue "is meant to provoke Muslims" because it is called the "Apple Mecca" and "is intended to be open 24 hours a day like the Ka'ba, and moreover, contains bars selling alcoholic beverages."

This "new insult to Islam" is a cube-shaped building where customers enjoy test-driving the various lines of Apple computers and peripherals in an ultramodern but cozy environment. Within the store, they can even stop by the "Genius Bar," not for a shot of scotch but to benefit from the knowledge of an expert Apple support rep.

Who would have guessed that the Islamist thought police could so foolishly and maliciously interpret this building as too closely resembling the cube-shaped Ka'ba in Mecca, thereby finding in it a "blatant insult to Islam"?

Islamism is the most dangerous global phenomenon of our time, and the Wahhabism within it occupies a special space for its violent and barbaric reactions to objects. We have seen ample evidence of this violence in Muslim lands such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, and Turkey.

I have been researching the "form fetish" preoccupation of personal computer manufacturers for more than a decade now and never have I noticed that Islam or its icons had played an important role (if any) behind the research and development principals of computer hardware or the stores where computers are sold. Among all the key figures in the creation and development of personal computers, Steve Jobs stands out as the most dedicated when it comes to the aesthetic and marketing aspects of the computer. For him, the computer is not just a machine helping the user accomplish a particular task. It is, or can be, a work of art.

The techno-fetish aspects of a Mac are as important to Apple as the functionality and quality of the chips inside it. According to the Silicon Valley biographer Alan Deutschman, "Jobs had an obsession with the visual and the physical"; "he wanted to create the Porsche of computers" and viewed Apple engineers as "artists."

Jobs was obsessed with the design and looks of his beloved NeXT cube, for exmaple. "Even the hidden electronic guts of the Next computer... had to have a clever, visually appealing design. 'Who is going to see the inside?' one of the NeXT designers asked. 'I will,' Steve said." Jobs' obsession with the Cube was an outcome of his love for the "perfect" machine he wanted to imagine and create, and certainly had nothing to do with any kind of religious icons, especially those of Islam. The cube-shaped Apple Store in New York is a reflection of Jobs' artistic and technological endeavor to make the failed NeXT Cube and the G4 Cube a success, at least in the form of a building.

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.

Shall we also outlaw the use of the term Mecca in the English language? The Apple company itself does not officially refer to its Fifth Avenue store as a "Mecca" for Apple customers, but should anyone who uses the term be rounded up? Should any and every object in the form of a cube be outlawed, recalled, trashed?

Islamists have been struggling to turn any Western object that they can imagine into a so-called "insult to Islam." As a Muslim myself, I see no insult to Islam in a computer store but I see plenty of it in Islamism itself.

The author is Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington.

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22 Comments

Not that new
I lived 5 years (1983-88) in Cairo as director of a non-religious international development agency. Our logo at the time was two children (boy & girl) standing side by side. By turning the logo upside down, and squinting, local islamists were able to detect a "cross"...i.e. the intersection of two lines marking the logo. I had figurative hell to pay to prove that the "cross" was simply the intersection of 2 lines. That was only one of the multiple times I and my agency was harassed by these 'defenders of Islam".

Other Islamic symbolism in the Mac
I think it's cute how users can choose their login icon to be the prophet Mohammed. Also, the way they made the standard background picture look like the sand dunes pilgrims to Mecca are likely to encounter, only blue. And then, you've got to like the symbolism in the name of their web browser. "Safari" was originally "Pilgrimage" in an early beta. Not coincidentally, it's based on something called "Konquerer". Finally, there's that whole exploding laptop thing thanks to defective Sony batteries.

But let's not forget that that when you select the time zone for Iraq in the System Preferences, you choose "Abu Ghraib" as the city. Priceless.

another insult?
Islam is a religion of shame and honour, so what else could we expect? But here's my question, if islam says it doesn't believe in idolotry, why would they worship this caba thing, which I believe is of meteoric origin, and was also worshiped by the pre-islamic heathen tribes in the area? So I would expect real muslims to advocate the destruction of the caba on the grounds of idolotry the same reason the Taliban destroyed those budist building sin afghan.

Down with the Cube! Allah akbar!
Let's see: cartoons, the logo on a Dairy Queen cup (turn it upside down), veils, literature, historical quotes, maps, movies, and on and on and on.

I believe Malkin got it right when she called Islam the Religion of Perpetual Outrage.

What is so infuriating is the tendency of so many to give into this outrage. Islam seems to get a pass on tolerance due to the tendency of its rabid followers to condemn you to death.

When it crosses boundaries
I'm aware that according to Mohammed, I as a non-Muslim am the same as a pig or a dog. To that I can say, "Whatever." But now, if I had a business and someone was trying to tell me what I can or can't put in it, I would consider it extremely unamerican of me to respond to any demands they'd make of me, by conceding to their demands. The problem with such a concession is, those who make the demands are not reasonable people. If you heed one demand, they'll step up their demands.

By the way, have you bought any Danish products lately, to counter that boycott they did when a Danish newspaper poked fun of Mohammed?

I call to every Islamic person who understands that the world belongs to everyone in it, to stand up against terrorism any way they can. I believe only Muslims can stop Islamist terrorism.

Buying Danish
"By the way, have you bought any Danish products lately, to counter that boycott they did when a Danish newspaper poked fun of Mohammed?"

Sadly, it's not as easy as buying Danish rolls from the grocery store. In Denmark, they call "Danish" Vienna Bread, making it Austrian. Shopping at IKEA doesn't do it either. They are from Sweden. Using your Nokia phone won't cut it. Finnish. But dig out the Legos... 100% Genuine Danish.

Got the legos
Also there are dairy products. It's pretty simple to look Danish products up online.

A Voice of Reason - Thank you, Dr. Silay
Dr. Silay, Thank you for being a voice of reason in the modern era. The last century was outrageously murderous thanks to Kant-Hegel-Marx-inspired communists and *****. Now, militant Islamists seek to make this century outrageously murderous by creating an Imperialist religion of Islam. We need more voices like yours and the principled thinkers of the Enlightenment to restore this world to reason.

when I was zealous
As a mormon kid I used to believe that others who did not belong to my church were really sad, lost people. When a friend left the church I felt very angry and thought it would be better for him to have died than left the Church.
That was zealotry, right?

I learned that such righteous anger truly meant that I was not secure in my own faith. Somehow my ego depended on everyone around me staying faithful, and if anyone strayed it might mean there was something wrong with the Church, but i couldn't admit it to myself. If I had any questions I was not to try to find the answers myself; I was to ask my church leaders to help me.

Then I had a dilemma: If I only ever asked church leaders to answer my doubts, I'd only hear what the Church wanted me to hear. If I went outside and tried to find answers to my own questions, the only sources of information would be those who hated the LDS church. I didn't have the mental acuity to reason for myself because I was just a kid.

I chose to question on my own. For a long time I hated the Church too. Now I feel sorry I got deceived by those who had an axe to grind and just wanted to destroy the Church.

This is leading me to think that the Islamic Faith is at a crisis point, depending on the materialistic interpretation of Mohammed's words to be true. Those Islamists are not only terrorists, they're terrorized. It wouldn't take that much to shatter their illusions, but it would have to be the right thing to tip them.

To a zealot, any deviation is dangerous--and rightly so, because it takes a great deal of mental structure-building and maintenance to maintain the facade of a faith that expects you to adhere perfectly.

Unfortunately the fear of what lies in one's own mind--that must not be looked a--is a great spurrer of violence, even toward innocent children. If you suicide bomb a bus full of children, that's still safer than doubting your religion.

What a world. We don't help terrorism by being kind to the whims of Muslims.

THIS DOES NOT DESERVE DISCUSSION.
SOON IT WILL BE LIKE ENGLAND. AFRAID OF MUSLIMS.

IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT I HAVE A FEW SUGGESTIONS ...ONE OF WHICH IS LUMP IT..

GOOD SUMMARY FROM REASONABLE MUSLIM
THANKS FOR THE VIEW....THERE SHOULD BE NO REASON FOR ME OR ANY AMERICAN TO HAVE TO JUSTIFY OUR TERMINOLOGY TO A RELIGIOUS GROUP.

IT IS PREPOSTEROUS.

ribs
babyback ribs come from Denmark. It's a side product after they carve the pig for Japanese consumers.

And since it's pork, you get a two-fer!

tolerance
Lisa,
I think part of it stems from where most Muslims come from, and you can relate as coming from a Mormon background.

Muslims mostly grow up in places that are entirely Muslim. Everyone around you reinforces and supports what you've been taught. You've also been taught that all non-Muslims are decadent and evil.

Then when you actually see Western life, it's overwhelming, in different ways.

First, the West is vastly superior when it comes to technology. But how can that be, when they are lazy and unpure? Also, to survive in Western civilization you must exercise personal restraint. There were never the temptations in Saudi Arabia to elicit all these bad feelings.

I've had Arabs tell me that they hate their attraction to Western life. Pizza, beer, football, TV, Disney, and all the fun we have.

Yes, exactly!
I grew up around just about all Mormons, socially, and i truly wanted to be a part of it because I didn't know anything else.

We were taught to "lean not unto thine own understanding." But in the end, it does come down to you. And it's a terrible feeling to have a choice, and not make your own choice but do what others say to do, even in small matters. That will kill you inside.

The biggest struggle in the world is the one to dominate your own heart and live right under your own power. Unfortunately, we may not have to sell out to the expectations of others now, but we often sell out to our own weaknesses, and that is what the Muslims exploit ruthlessly!

I'm trying to learn how to walk on my own two feet, even though my moral legs are shaky. I think a Muslim Zealot would say it's no good to try, you have to have Allah. But who made me? Whoever made me, gave me legs and I have to learn how to use them.

You're sh---ing me!
The ones you get at Chilis? Awesome.

ALL CAPS OFFENDS ISLAM.
IT'S IN THE KORAN. INFIDELS WHO USE ALL CAPS WILL SPEND ETERNITY IN HELL WITH 72 VEGANS.

Speaking of which, Steve Jobs offends Islam by being a vegan rather than a virgin like Bill Gates.

will they blow it up?
will they blow it up? if yes, will they tape it? do you think Steve Jobs is going to like the tape? i bet is going to be visually stuning.....

Wal-Mart and Sam's Club have been carrying Danish cheese lately
Wal-Mart and Sam's Club have been carrying Danish cheese lately. It may be just me, but I didn't notice it before the cartoon incident.

If Apple is insulting Islam
If Apple is insulting Islam, I say, "Buy a Mac!"

Reinforce good behavior.

Let 'em eat pork and bark at the moon
These "people" are actually reinforcing their fanatical idiocy by their ravings on this issue.

It was only because they got so hot under their collars about THE SATANIC VERSES, that civilized people paid any attention to a book that was (IMHO) the most boring piece of crap I ever forced myself to wade through. (It was probably a plot between Salman Rushdie and the Ayatollah Kockamaini.) Now they are giving Apple so much free publicity in the same dumb way.

When Christian or Jewish symbols are "insulted" (i.e., "Last Temptation" or "**** Christ"), good people of those Abrahamic religions are expected to bear it. Why should Mohammadan symbols be exempt? If they don't get real and quit acting so high-and-mighty, we might finally have to turn the Kaa'ba (and everything within 20 miles of it) into radioactive glass.


Suggestions for Danish product purchases......
Those round, tin, blue cans of cookies with a bunch of flavors are popular at office parties.
My wife bought several for her hospital party and they are addictive.
Let muslims boycott Denmark...they take in less than a crappin'1% of ALL Danish exports according to monstersandcritics.com
Yeah, Denmark will collapse.
The muzzies can go eat and choke on sand.

I say.....
Fu_k 'em if they can't take a joke.

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