My most recent exploits took me all the way to Istanbul and it was quite the adventure. Founded in 660 BC as Byzantium, in 330 AD it became Constantinople when it was overtaken by the Roman emperor Constantine.
The people you meet here tend to treat you like a special celebrity guest. Especially in cities, the rush of daily life feels like Paris or New York. I remember rain turning the city's alleys into wild rivers.
Popular and political opposition may also be undergirded by a fear of Islamic power and dominion. This is because a purpose-built mosque visibly alters landscape and territory. In contrast, makeshift or ad hoc mosques are unrecognizable as such and are plentiful throughout Europe.
Presuming his Muslim wife will win him the Muslim vote, perhaps he believes it in his best political interest to not take a stand that some of his potential supporters might agree with. Why stir the pot when you have us in the bag?
My first trip to Timbuktu occurred in 2003, long before this current conflict. I arrived in Timbuktu and the air emitted a certain respect for history. The architectural structure reminded me that I was in the midst of a city of knowledge that had existed for hundreds of years.
When the trumped-up passions of "Innocence of Muslims" cool, burnt-out buildings will be repaired, diplomatic dances will reboot. But who will stand up for the freedom to disbelieve, to criticize and to mock?
Unlike Him, we do not have infinite capacity. We are failed deities. We try and we stumble, and we have few resources to fall back on. So we end up as I did, prostrated pathetically after the prayer, tears streaming from my cheeks.
A mosque is worth only as much as the people inside it. It's the communities that give the mosque meaning and weight. How we serve our Creator and our fellow neighbors is ultimately reflected in the spirit of each and every mosque.