A very interesting incident happened yesterday at a local high school in Toronto. I am not giving any links to the news story or pictures to protect the identity, but it provoked quite the debate.
The assignment was to build an exhibit, themed around corporations' influence on our way of life. Basically, the teacher wanted these students (Grade 8, mind you) to explore what would happen if corporations indeed took over many aspects of our lives. So what does one (Muslim) student do? She built a model of the Kabaa, but attached to each sides of the Kaaba were stickers, one of KFC, one of McDonalds, and a couple of other corporations. So basically, corporations had taken over the Grand Mosque of Mecca. McKaaba?
When I first heard of this exhibit - I thought now here is a true piece of art! Art is supposed to be provocative, and this exhibit suceeded in pushing all the right buttons! If you didn't know, corporations have truly been taking over the holiest of Muslim lands.
For example, now you can stay at Makkah Hilton, built right next to the Kaaba. Their website states "Wake up to an Art Deco-style room offering Kaaba or Holy Haram Mosque views, opening windows, and a seating area. Get to work at the workstation, relax with a newspaper on the sofa or refresh in the luxury bathroom. The Twin City/Haram Tower 6 rooms have a kitchenette."
Right next to the hotel is a shopping outlet, offering KFC, Burger King, etc. for all your shopping needs. So it would seem our young high school student wasn't that far off the mark after all! And it's not just their presence, these corporations have impressed upon the powers that be to destroy Islamic heritage sites (in the name of religion) to make way for even more of their presence [source].
So what happened at this school once this exhibit was present amongst other exhibits? Suddenly, a bunch of young Muslim men in that school decided it was up to them to defend the honor of Islam. So saying good bye to their girlfriends, taking a last sniff of their dope, snuffing out their cigarettes and chucking their half-empty beer cans into the bins, they marched en masse to the principal's office.
It was a near riot. Shouting, gesturing, threatening the student who made the exhibit with dire consequences, they forced the principal to act. She of course marched to where the exhibit was being held, told the student in no uncertain terms that exhibits were meant to foster the learning spirit and not to insult, and asked her to take down the exhibit. The mob went back to whatever they were doing.
It's a pity that the principal could not support the student who made the exhibit, or at least give her the option of defending her work, and succumbed to mob rule. The first place young people learn Canadian values of diversity, freedom of speech, peaceful resolving of differences, is our schools. Yet today, we have a group of youngsters who learnt that mob rule works.