Earlier this week I posted a pointer to a story about how Muslims may have been offended by the design of Apple's 5th Ave Cubic retail store design, and more specifically what it looked like while it was still covered with black panels, before the clear glass structure was revealed. I came to the topic by way of Jason O'Grady's Apple Core post on ZDnet and have since read the similar story and it's heated comments on SFGate.com from April '06.
The site/org that I referenced, which publishes English translations of mostly obscure Arabic media, is one of questionable intentions, but the validity of the translation in this case hasn't really been questioned. In its original form the claims that MEMRI cites may very well be false and MEMRI's reasons for translating/publishing those claims may indeed be nothing but propaganda, but there appears to be no evidence that the translation itself was fabricated. I have emailed MEMRI requesting a link to their original source but have not yet received a reply.
It's important to note that nowhere in the 300 words that I wrote did I personally say anything derogatory about any religious or ethnic group. It's important not confuse the message with the messenger and equally as important to consider the context. This is an Apple-related blog, therefore my reference and commentary were Apple-related and not political or religious in any way. I was truly shocked by the volume and content of the comments that ensued. Those who know me and many of you who contacted me privately expressed surprise at the reaction as well.
I do regret that some of you were offended by my even mentioning or linking to MEMRI, where the original report was cited. I regret the title I chose for the post. I meant no disrespect to those Muslims who felt they were being unfairly portrayed and I never meant to imply that all followers of Islam were represented by the MEMRI allegation. I felt - and still feel - that changing the title after the fact or disabling comments on that post does more harm than good as it makes it look like we're trying to cover something up, which we are not.
For the record, I live on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn, widely known as the Middle Eastern hub of NYC. I've had some interesting discussions about this topic with several neighbors and local business owners that I've been friendly with for years. Everyone I showed the pictures of the Apple Store (still veiled) and the Ka'ba to was shocked by the similarities. None of them were offended by my showing them the pictures, however, or by what I'd written. One of the men I spoke with, who owns the deli I frequent across the street from my apartment, was happy to translate this cached page I discovered from May that confirms what many of you pointed out in the comments... that the initial reports of this issue were probably based on a rumor. While I never stated or think I implied that the source I quoted was credible, I also never clearly stated that I personally believed it to be inflammatory or biased. In retrospect, I should have made that point, making the ensuing controversy less about me and more about the original story.