- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
No, not a multicultural spin-off of the beloved 1990s animated series, just the latest Islamaphobic backlash scandal.
Following medieval tradition, the stonemasons working on the renovation of St. Jean cathedral in Lyon, France decided to pay tribute to one of their own by styling a gargoyle after a Muslim mason named Ahmed Benzizine:
Stonemason Emmanuel Fourchet decided to carve "Ahmed" as a gargoyle — a demonic medieval statue that hangs from a cathedral as both a form of rain gutter and an admonishment to the faithful — in tribute to his friend.
The "God is Great" inscription underneath, in both French and Arabic, is a tribute to his colleague’s faith, and was not meant as a slight to Christian worshippers who still use St Jean eight centures after it was built.
"I’m a Frenchman and a practising Muslim and I’ve always worked on historic monuments. I could work on mosques or synagogues as well," Benzizine told AFP after a hardline website attempted to stir controversy….
While Ahmed has adorned the Gothic masterpiece since summer without raising eyebrows, it was attacked by "Jeunesse Identitaire Lyonnais", a right-wing group which defends the region’s traditional "ethnic and cultural identity".
"While in many Muslim countries Christianity is forbidden and Christians persecuted, in Lyon Muslims take over our churches at their leisure with the complicity of Catholic authorities," the group complained on its website.
Unless Ahmed the Gargoyle is coming to life at night and eating all the communion wafers or something, this seems pretty harmless to me.