updated 05:00 pm EDT, Thu October 12, 2006
MEMRI angers Muslims
A recent report from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) claiming that some Muslims dubbed Apple's Fifth Avenue Store in New York blasphemous has angered numerous Muslims, who are actively criticizing the media firm for selectively publishing the most extreme statements from the Muslim world. An unnamed, anonymous website allegedly posted an entry stating that Apple's NYC store is a "blatant insult to Islam" because it resembles the Ka'ba -- a sacred building in Mecca open 24 hours with a cube-like shape -- and urged Muslims to spread the word and "stop the project," according to MEMRI. Apple responded to the claims, saying that the entrance to the Apple Store is not meant to resemble the holy structure and that the company has never referred to the store as "Mecca," as some bloggers recently had, according to TechWeb Technology News.
"New Yorkers have given our store on Fifth Avenue a resoundingly positive reception," said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. "A couple of blogs referred to it as 'Mecca,' and others observed that, during construction it looked like the Ka'ba. Apple has never referred to our store as Mecca, and the entrance is not an attempt to look like the Ka'ba. We respect all people's religions and regret that the comments of these independent bloggers have offended anyone."
A MEMRI representative said that the reported material was translated directly from the source, and that the organization's mission is to "present material that would otherwise go unreported, including discussions on Islamist websites -- as it is written and read in the Arab world." Some would question the integrity of MEMRI, however, as Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations once told the Washington Times that MEMRI's goal is to find the "worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible," according to TechWeb Technology News.