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January 25, 2005

Mecca - 'By far the Muslim world's most diverse city'


Surprised me, too, when I read the above in Hassan M. Fattah's story in last Thursday's New York Times.

He went on to explain that the reason some 100 ethnicities can live in the city, with almost every sect and creed at peace, is that the hajj - the religious pilgrimage which every Muslim must make - has for 1,425 years been attracting believers from all over the world, of whom many simply remain.

In order to live there, they must adapt to the fact that others, from myriad other countries, have and are doing the very same thing.


The average Meccan is just as likely to be Asian as Arab, light-skinned as dark-skinned, just as likely to speak English as Arabic.

Almost everyone who lives there is bilingual.

However, there are limits to the city's tolerance: no non-Muslims are allowed to enter - much less live in - the city.

Fattah wrote that the city has "an unlikely liberalism - not quite a Berkeley-style liberalism, but still a striking oasis of open thought and discussion in a world of hardened politics and interest. Increasingly, Meccans see themselves as a bulwark against the creeping extremism that has overtaken much Islamic debate."


"In this city," he continued, "the fundamentals are neither militancy nor dogmatic intolerance, but openness and free thought."

January 25, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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this just shows you how diverse the people of the Islamic faith are. People from all over the world. Wanna join the melting pot..? become Muslim :-)

Posted by: AlBaraa | Oct 7, 2006 3:47:12 PM

So diverse that 5 billion people around the world are refused entry.

How on earth can you have a city which is physically barred to 83% of the people in the world based on their religion and still call it diverse?

The Berkeley reference is funny, though. Berkeley considers itself diverse but has a tendency to suppress the free speech of anybody who doesn't toe the progressive party line.

Posted by: Phillip Winn | Jan 25, 2005 11:34:11 AM

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