Amazon has moved quickly to protect the delicate sensibilities of Muslims from blasphemy. According to the New York Post, “the Council on American-Islamic Relations complained to Amazon on Thursday about more than a dozen bathroom and outdoor mats, which carried verses and the word Allah in Islamic calligraphy,” and the offensive products were “promptly removed from Amazon on Friday.” And so everyone was happy, except those who are concerned about the increasing threats to the freedom of speech in American society.
Amazon moved swiftly to assure CAIR that it was complying with its demands:
A spokesman for CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, said the retailer assured him that the links to those products had been removed and that Amazon was conducting an audit of its site. … A spot check by The Post showed that the items CAIR flagged were indeed gone.
CAIR, however, was still not satisfied. Emboldened by Amazon’s ready compliance, CAIR made more demands:
CAIR forwarded other questionable items to Amazon on Friday, including a toilet seat with an image of the Quran as well as a bathroom floor rug and a towel set with an image of the holy book.
Amazon was ready to do anything CAIR asked it to do. An Amazon spokesperson said:
All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action. The products in question are being removed from our store.
The Amazon listing for this doormat is indeed gone, but you can still see it cached here. Clearly this product was not intended to be offensive; it wasn’t the creation of some “Islamophobes” trying to show their contempt for the Qur’an. It was marketed as “Holy Quran Door Mat Floor Mat Rug Indoor/Outdoor/Front Door/Bathroom Mats.”
Yes, “Holy.” And the image of this doormat makes it clear that this was presented as an affirmation of Islam, not an insult to it. But Hamas-linked CAIR said that it “received complaints about the items, which are offensive to Muslims because the Quranic verses would be stepped on or otherwise disrespected by customers.” And it’s true: in Islamic cultures, to show someone the bottom of one’s shoes or to walk on something is considered a supreme insult.
There is a very different sensibility in the West; for example, Amazon is still selling doormats featuring Bible verses, and as far as I know no Jews or Christians are complaining.
The worst part of this, however, is that Amazon readily complied with Hamas-linked CAIR’s demand. There is nothing intrinsically offensive about this doormat: it doesn’t feature any insult to Islam, or the Qur’an, or Muhammad. But Hamas-linked CAIR claims it’s offensive, and that’s that.
Yet even if it were intended to be disrespectful to Islam, Amazon should have remembered the freedom of speech and kept it on sale. After all, Amazon sells numerous products that are offensive to Christians; see, for example, here and here and here. It is doubtful that they would remove them from sale if Christian groups complained — nor should they do so. We live in a free society and don’t have blasphemy laws.
At least not yet. But now a precedent has been set: if Hamas-linked CAIR thinks something is “offensive” to Muslims, Amazon will remove it.
How long will it be before Hamas-linked CAIR starts demanding that books that criticize jihad terror and Sharia oppression of women, gays, and others also be dropped by Amazon? Remember that last summer, then-Representative and current Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Muslim, wrote to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, demanding that he drop from sale at Amazon material by people that the Southern Poverty Law Center had defamed as “hate group leaders.”
How long will it be before Amazon complies? How long before it will be nearly impossible to obtain material that is considered to contravene Islam’s blasphemy laws, including honest and accurate analysis of the motives and goals of jihad terrorists? Get it while you can.
Amazon didn’t accede to all of Ellison’s demands, but its prompt compliance with CAIR’s is an extremely disquieting precedent. Is Amazon moving to being Sharia-compliant? Will the Justice Department ever get around to examining Amazon’s near-monopoly on book sales?