Feel the Burn

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By order of Iran’s confectioners union, any Danish pastries sold in Tehran, the nation’s capital, must now be called “Roses of the Prophet Muhammad Pastries.” One of the capital’s most popular bakeries, Danish Pastries, has covered up the word “Danish” on its sign with a traditional symbol of mourning, a black banner saying “Oh Hussein,” a reference to an Islamic martyr.

A gang of fired-up Pakistanis dragged Ronald McDonald into the street by his red wig and set him aflame in Lahore, the second-largest city in Pakistan and the main commercial hub in the prosperous province of Punjab.

A few blocks away, Colonel Sanders met the same fate, be- ing dragged from a KFC and set ablaze in the street. By the time the protest was over, several people were dead. AP reports estimated that 15,000 had joined in.

In a similar but smaller demonstration of rage, a band of some two dozen black-veiled women stormed a half dozen or so gift shops in Kashmir and set fire to the displays of Valentine’s Day cards. “We will not let anyone sell these cards or celebrate Valentine’s Da) proclaimed Asiva Andrabi, the group’s leader, holding up a burning valentine for the cameras. The cards and chocolates, she said, were “Western gimmicks,” aimed at pulling upright kids away from their “roots”: Godiva and Cupid as risque imperialists, both too suggestive of sexual impropriety to escape the notice of the morality police. The dire father of Iran’s revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini, might well have looked kindly upon Andrabi’s tirade; as he once declared, “There is no fun in Islam.” No fun and no heart-shaped boxes of chocolate truffles.

And no Pepsi. As Maulana Invadullah memorably said a few days after the Sept. 11 attack, explaining why he thought radical Islam would inevitably defeat the United States, “The Americans love Pepsi Cola, we love death.”

Invadullah, who fought in Afghanistan’s guerrilla war against the Soviets, elaborated: “War is our best hobby. We cannot live without war. The Americans lead lavish lives and they are afraid of death. We are not afraid of death. The sound of guns firing is like music for us.”

What’s increasingly clear is that these latest staged uproars aren’t about Cupid or Colonel Sanders, or even about Danish cartoons. Those are simply the groundwork for the larger battle, the fight by radical Islamists to inflame the masses and silence the moderate voices within their own societies.

The plan of attack from the radical Islamists, working all too well, is to intensify the vicious cycle, to stimulate riots about Ronald McDonald, to announce a $1 million prize for the heads of the Danish cartoonists, to threaten the annihilation of Israel, to dare the police in their own societies to stop the mayhem, to bum and kill and push and push until the West is prodded into actions that can then be used to further escalate the paranoia and bloodshed, to attract more men and women like Invadullah and Andrabi to the cause, so that, in the end, like scorpions in a bottle, one side will be forced to beat the other into submission.

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