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Young Muslim designer wears his heart on his chest
Today's Zaman ^ | 27.04.2008 | H. SALİH ZENGİN

Posted on 04/29/2008 3:17:30 PM PDT by forkinsocket

These days, while walking in the streets of any major European town it is quite likely you may come across a young Muslim wearing a T-shirt bearing an interesting messages: "Read Quran, charge your iman" or "I love my Prophet -- Mohammed." These are only two of the many interesting messages a young German citizen of Turkish descent has been trying to spread using the T-shirts of his own making.

You are likely to see these messages not only on T-shirts but also on bags, mugs, mouse pads and even bibs. Other messages include, "Keep smiling, it's sunnah," "Terrorism has no religion," "Drop love, not bombs," "Worship the Creator, not the creation," "Hijab supporter," "Make Çay not War," "Go halal," and "Ummah: be a part of it." All these and more are available on StyleIslam.com, the Web site of designer, 33-year-old German-born Turk Melih Kesmen. When cartoons insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed hit the headlines around the world, his first reaction was to design a T-shirt with the message, "I Love My Prophet -- Mohammed" and hit the street in London. Upon seeing the great positive reaction he received -- peppered with the few verbal assaults he had anticipated -- he began brainstorming possible ways of spreading Islam's message through a more contemporary and esthetically appealing manner, and came up with slogan-bearing T-shirts.

"We aim to interact with people around us through the messages written on the T-shirts. Basically, we call on non-Muslims to learn about Islam not from the Western media, but from the very people they walk past in the street every day," Kesmen explained, adding that this street fashion aims to present the message in a more appealing way to the youth of Europe.

Little did he guess that that first T-shirt would turn out to be a milestone in his life. What made Kesmen design that T-shirt, however, was not limited to a single incident. Born into a Turkish family in Germany, Kesmen's life was already full of contradictions and ordeals that would soon encourage him to employ extraordinary methods to express himself. In his childhood and early youth, he suffered a sort of "alienation" complex because his hair was not blond, his name not Hans, and myriad other differences between him and the other kids in school such as his eating a sucuk (Turkish garlic sausage) sandwich in class during lunch, while most of the others had chocolate spread in their bread. One day being different suddenly became being cool, however: on that particular summer day, early in June, he came to physical education with a pair of knee-high wrestling shoes, handed down from his elder brother. He was afraid to take them out of his bag for fear of being ridiculed. But when he eventually did and put the shoes on something unexpected happened: All the kids started to stare at this new sports gear with an expression of admiration on their faces. His friends even asked where they could buy a similar pair. That moment, he said, turned all his fears into self-confidence and made him realize that he, as the son of a Muslim Turkish family, also had many advantages over German kids.

Kesmen initially took up graffiti to express his artistic bent, and started pouring a stream of consciousness onto walls, and even train cars, not concerned with conveying any specific message. But when he turned 16, his Islamic sensitivity started haunting him, cautioning against painting walls that did not belong to him and without the permission of their owners. He realized that his graffiti was not lawful either outwardly or inwardly. So he turned from painting walls to designing T-shirts, with the help of equipment given him by his brother, Ufuk.

This was the story until the cartoon crisis. While many set about showing harsh reactions to the blasphemous cartoons, Kesmen sought milder and esthetically more appealing ways to voice his reaction. He came up with "I Love My Prophet" written in the Latin alphabet and "Mohammed" written in Arabic. And with the T-shirt's first outing in London, what he was soon to name "StyleIslam" was born.

'We urge people to think'

The religion of Islam is a very balanced one in many respects, said Kesmen, and he wants to make people take a different approach to it through his stylized Islamic motifs. In his workshop -- alongside six other people, four of whom wear a headscarf -- he designs items such as T-shirts, buttons, bags, mugs, sweatshirts and bibs and markets them on his Web site.

When we asked him whether he felt Westerners might find his messages provocative -- given that some of the messages include, "Hijab: My Choice, My right, My Life," "Salah, Always get connected," "Mecca," and "Jesus was a Muslim" -- Kesmen, who studied graphic design in Dortmund for one-and-a-half years, said: "Like Muslims, non-Muslims should ask these questions to themselves. Some claim that we provoke them with these T-shirts. But such people are either completely ignorant of Islam or prejudiced. I want to see StyleIslam as a contemporary expression of the Islamic identity. The message of Islam hasn't changed for thousands of years. Only the instruments with which it is communicated vary according to the ages. As somebody hailing from the world of art, I must assume my personal responsibility of communicating Islam in the sphere of art. StyleIslam has turned out to be my experience of living with my Muslim identity. We are Muslims and have nothing to hide. We can proudly carry our message on our chest."

He underscored that Muslims in Europe made a grave mistake after the Sept. 11 attacks by sort of withdrawing into themselves as a community, adding that they had should have open-heartedly been representing Islam in European societies. He also noted that 95 percent of reactions they received were positive, and that most people were very surprised to see how such serious messages could be communicated in a very humorous fashion. "Most non-Muslims think that humor is foreign to Muslims. We will continue resisting the hateful attacks on Islam with our art and by producing new and appropriate designs," he remarked, noting that the reason they wrote the messages in English was a willingness to reach a greater number of people.

He also said that they would soon start using other languages such as French, Spanish and Turkish when they penetrate the markets in these countries. "Our non-Muslim customers are mostly intellectuals who support and approve of this self-confident initiative of Muslims. Our target audience is people between 15 and 50. The 25 items in our product line have their highest demand in Germany, Austria and the Benelux countries. We will include some never-before-tried designs in our collection next year," Kesmen revealed. He stressed that they wanted to initiate a new movement by combining street style with Islamic patterns.

Kesmen and his design team donate 1 euro for each item sold to support African children orphaned by AIDS.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Germany
KEYWORDS: germany; islam; muslims; tshirts; turkey
.
1 posted on 04/29/2008 3:17:30 PM PDT by forkinsocket
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To: forkinsocket

If somone’s wearing an “I love jihad and the hijab and Mohammed” T-shirt, it would be too easy to sneak up and stuff raw bacon down it.

BTW, PBUH Mohammed (Pigfat Be Upon Him).


2 posted on 04/29/2008 3:24:05 PM PDT by elcid1970 (My cartridges are dipped in pig grease.)
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To: forkinsocket

“Most non-Muslims think that humor is foreign to Muslims. We will continue resisting the hateful attacks on Islam with our art and by producing new and appropriate designs,”

If they stopped blowing innocent people up that might help their cause a little bit too, wouldn’t you think??


3 posted on 04/29/2008 3:24:29 PM PDT by Dazed_Catt (World hunger and food shortages??............thank you algore.)
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To: forkinsocket

I’ll take the “I have a Sunni disposition and kill those with a Shi’itey one” T-shirt.


4 posted on 04/29/2008 3:24:53 PM PDT by BipolarBob (I survived the same Bosnian gunfire as Hillary. It were'nt no thang.)
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To: elcid1970
his brother, Ufuk

With a name like Ufuk, the kid has to be oozing self-esteem and confidence. Parents obviously had big plans for him.
5 posted on 04/29/2008 3:35:28 PM PDT by philled (Rest in Peace, Sgt Merlin German. www.merlinsmiracles.com)
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To: forkinsocket

6 posted on 04/29/2008 3:38:54 PM PDT by Free ThinkerNY ((((Obama's issues would be better resolved in a psychotherapists office, than in the Oval Office))))
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To: forkinsocket

Jesus was a Muslim? WTF?


7 posted on 04/29/2008 3:39:08 PM PDT by Hildy (It is our choices, far more than our abilities, that determine who we truly are. - J.K. Rowling)
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To: Dazed_Catt
"“Most non-Muslims think that humor is foreign to Muslims"

Well YEAH, talk to a bunch, their sense of humor is almost nonexistent except on a third grade level, they've got NO sense of sarcasm except on the level of Islam is a religion of Peace right before the explosive punchline, and they think "irony" is a mineral.

Look at the 'humor' on the T shirts, for Pete's sake! It's only identifiable AS humor because somebody told the reporter that's what it is. "Make kay (noble) not war"?? "Hijab suporter"? What, he wears one?? More likely, he prefers women covered, timid and bruised but without permanent scarring as proven by his magnum opus: "Go acceptable to Sharia Law ["Go halal"] THAT'S funny?? Only to a terrorist. I'm sure that stuff just has the Taliban and their Saudi enablers rolling on the floor. I personally find it as humorous as rubbernecking a bloody train wreck, as his friends tried to do in London.

And yes, stopping the murder of innocent civilians in the name of Allah is the BEST place to start an image makeover.

8 posted on 04/29/2008 3:39:42 PM PDT by cake_crumb (At the rate Obama's going, his bus'll need a lift kit just to clear all the bodies.)
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To: Hildy
"Jesus was a Muslim?"

He said THAT?? I couldn't read the whole thing.

9 posted on 04/29/2008 3:41:11 PM PDT by cake_crumb (At the rate Obama's going, his bus'll need a lift kit just to clear all the bodies.)
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To: forkinsocket
I have to admit, I'm tempted to say something smart, but this story is a rarity.

A Muslim doing something positive to promote his faith in an appropriate manner

Sort of shocking!!!

10 posted on 04/29/2008 3:42:16 PM PDT by Popman (Typical bitter white male clinging to my religion and guns......................)
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To: cake_crumb

Good lord, he DOES have a T shirt saying that! That’s an outright, outrageous lie about a religion that wasn’t a sparkle in Mohammad’s eye until the latter half od the 7th century.


11 posted on 04/29/2008 3:43:17 PM PDT by cake_crumb (At the rate Obama's going, his bus'll need a lift kit just to clear all the bodies.)
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To: cake_crumb; Hildy

Muslims believe that Islam was the original faith of all the prophets since Adam, but that it was corrupted & changed over time. So when someone converts to Islam, they are not converting, but rather ‘reverting’ (to the original faith).


12 posted on 04/29/2008 3:44:55 PM PDT by forkinsocket
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To: Popman

IMO, claiming that Jesus Christ was a Muslim is about as positive as my wearing a T shirt saying “Muhammed Raped Pigs”.


13 posted on 04/29/2008 3:51:52 PM PDT by cake_crumb (At the rate Obama's going, his bus'll need a lift kit just to clear all the bodies.)
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To: forkinsocket

Which WE all know is complete BS. What Muslims DO is subsume cultures by violence and then take credit for the advances of the subsumed culture.


14 posted on 04/29/2008 3:54:11 PM PDT by cake_crumb (At the rate Obama's going, his bus'll need a lift kit just to clear all the bodies.)
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To: BipolarBob

LOL from me - likely the first of many ... ;-)


15 posted on 04/29/2008 3:54:25 PM PDT by Tunehead54 (Nothing funny here. ;-)
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To: elcid1970
" So he turned from painting walls to designing T-shirts, with the help of equipment given him by his brother, Ufuk."

Oh, dear... You can't even make that up!
16 posted on 04/29/2008 3:54:26 PM PDT by CaspersGh0sts
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To: forkinsocket
"We will continue resisting the hateful truthful attacks on Islam with our deceitful art and by producing new and appropriate designs,”
17 posted on 04/29/2008 3:56:25 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: cake_crumb
...claiming that Jesus Christ was a Muslim is about as positive as my wearing a T shirt saying “Muhammed Raped Pigs”.

Thanks, I totally missed that in the article.

"Jesus Christ was a Muslim" is a historical inaccurate statement were as “Muhammad Raped Pigs” probably is true.

I take back my post

18 posted on 04/29/2008 3:58:47 PM PDT by Popman (Typical bitter white male clinging to my religion and guns......................)
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To: BipolarBob

LoL! maybe you should submit that “design” to the guy. Add a bloody “happy Ashura day” image to it.


19 posted on 04/29/2008 3:59:47 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Popman
"A Muslim doing something positive to promote his faith in an appropriate manner" ...Sort of shocking!!!

So is your statement.

there is nothing "appropriate" about what he's doing. It's deceitful and insulting in fact.

20 posted on 04/29/2008 4:06:53 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: forkinsocket
Muslims can 'believe " all they want. but there is absolutely NOTHING to support that claim. The TRUTH and evidence supports it that Mohammad made Islam, actually he stole the pagen form of it from his grandfather, whose father invented the Allah rock, expanding the pagan rock worship that was rampant at the time.

His great grandfather purchased the Ka'aba from another tribe for a skin of wine and a whistle, the Ka'aba being a pile of unhewn rocks around a water hole in Mecca with no roof, in which pagan Arabs piled their various rock gods and left offering to them for safe passage.

This is written in so called Islamic "scripture" which is why Muslims are forbidden to read it without supervision and explanation by a scholar to tell them what it DOESN'T mean.

21 posted on 04/29/2008 4:15:22 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Nathan Zachary
there is nothing "appropriate" about what he's doing. It's deceitful and insulting in fact.

Besides the fact I missed the part of "Jesus is a Muslim" which is highly insulting, what is deceitful and insulting about wearing a T-shirt with the slogans in the article?

I see way more insulting T-shirts worn by Americans every day

Would you prefer him to strap on a bomb belt to made a statement?

22 posted on 04/29/2008 4:16:56 PM PDT by Popman (Typical bitter white male clinging to my religion and guns......................)
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To: Popman
Many of his slogans are insulting and demeaning. Not just the "Jesus was a muslim" one.
"Hijab supporter" for example, is demeaning to women. It's a symbol of oppression. In some Islamic countries, a women can be stoned to death for not wearing one.

In Afgahistan during the Tasaliban days, a house full of women were allowed to burn to death because they weren't allowed out of the burning house without a Hijab.

If you knew the meaning and reason behind many of those slogans, you wouldn't think it so harmless.

It is exactly that ignorance of Islamic "culture" that Islam uses to entrench itself into western society and slowly destroy it.

23 posted on 04/29/2008 4:28:25 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Hildy

Yea Thats the crap they want the world to believe, they say Jesus was just a prophet and Moscum_mad was the last one.
Then they believe they have the answers we need and the lies go on..
Jesus said it plain..there is no one who knows the father, but the son..warned of false prophets

Moham_mad’s vision was to unite the people of the middle east and form his kingdom..to hell with Islam..puke be upon him..deceiver of billions..


24 posted on 04/29/2008 4:41:03 PM PDT by aeonspromise
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To: Popman

“I have to admit, I’m tempted to say something smart, but this story is a rarity.
A Muslim doing something positive to promote his faith in an appropriate manner

Sort of shocking!!!”

Actually it’s not all that rare or shocking.


25 posted on 04/29/2008 4:45:09 PM PDT by Valin
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To: Nathan Zachary
If you knew the meaning and reason behind many of those slogans, you wouldn't think it so harmless.

I know very well the meaning and reason behind the slogans, (maybe even more than you) and where exactly did I say it was harmless?

Everyday I see T-shirts that are harmful in many ways to our culture in America, but we as free people have to put up with it to a point where what they say has become dangerous, then we act.

It is exactly that ignorance of Islamic "culture" that Islam uses to entrench itself into western society and slowly destroy it.

You speak to me like I'm clueless about the long term objectives of Islam goal of the rebuilding the Caliphate

Last time I looked Germany was a free country ruled under the socialist democracy, which allows their people free expression even for a young German citizen of Turkish descent to have the freedom to do so.

Not to allow these expressions will result in Muslim making violent statements instead.

I for one would much rather see a guy wearing a "Terrorism has no religion," "Drop love, not bombs," "Worship the Creator, not the creation," T-shirt than blood, guts spayed and body parts all over a train station

26 posted on 04/29/2008 4:47:40 PM PDT by Popman (Typical bitter white male clinging to my religion and guns......................)
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To: forkinsocket
...spreading Islam's message through a more contemporary and esthetically appealing manner...

Social jihad.

27 posted on 04/29/2008 5:00:41 PM PDT by PGalt
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: Nathan Zachary
"In Afgahistan during the Tasaliban days, a house full of women were allowed to burn to death because they weren't allowed out of the burning house without a Hijab."

That happened in a school for girls in Saudi, too.

29 posted on 04/29/2008 5:22:43 PM PDT by cake_crumb (At the rate Obama's going, his bus'll need a lift kit just to clear all the bodies.)
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To: Popman
"I for one would much rather see a guy wearing a "Terrorism has no religion,"...

A Muslim wearing a T-shirt saying that is a LIAR. I wouldn't want to see one wearing it. All Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim. Terrorists do have a religion, it's called Islam. Islam endorses terrorism, and calls for terrorism to subdue the people of the lands it is 'spreading peaceful islam.

Perhaps you do know what islam is all about. but your comments don't reflect that knowledge.

I don't agree with you that it's ok for people to wear deceitful t-shirts promoting the most evil and barbaric blood cult on earth.
That wasn't the intent of 'freedom of speech'.

30 posted on 04/29/2008 5:24:12 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Popman
"Not to allow these expressions will result in Muslim making violent statements instead."

Good. Lets get it over with. A quick war is better than a slow genocide, ending in a short war that we WILL loose.

31 posted on 04/29/2008 5:29:54 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: forkinsocket
"Terrorism has no religion, ..."

Terrorism is an act, therefore it has no religion. However, the vast majority of terrorism in the world is done by radical muslims and that is a fact that a t-shirt can't explain away.

32 posted on 04/29/2008 5:37:30 PM PDT by JustaDumbBlonde ("When the government fears the people there is liberty ... " Thomas Jefferson)
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To: cake_crumb
Horrible, brutal disgusting things happen to women in Islamic countries on a daily basis. We just seldom get a glimpse of those atrocities. Daughters murdered for even looking at a guy. Daughters soaked in fuel and light on fire, burned alive for causing dishonor to the family.

It's real sad, that when we KNOW all this goes on in those barbaric countries, muslim women come here and tell us it's something the WANT to wear.
Worse, womens rights groups stand in support of them!
In reality, 9 out of 10 of them are told to stand out on the street and make these claims. If they didn't, we know what would happen. We just can't see the beaten faces.

33 posted on 04/29/2008 5:43:42 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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