Turkish cleric Gülen tops intellectuals list

Western readers are likely to learn a few new names by checking out the final results of the Foreign Policy/Prospect poll of the World's Top Public Intellectuals. In an unprecedented development, all of the top 10 are Muslims, some of whom are barely known in the United States. No result was more surprising than our winner-by-a-landslide, Fethullah Gülen.

The Western media has never known quite what to make of this Turkish religious leader, who lives in exile near Philadelphia. He is described alternately as a leading voice for moderation and education in the Muslim world or the second coming of Ayatollah Khomeini. But, as we've learned here at FP, the passion and dedication of his supporters is impressive, to say the least. After an article on the poll appeared in Turkey's Zaman newspaper, the avalanche of votes for Gülen began.

While voting for their champion, Gülen's supporters tended to pick other Muslim names for the other four choices. This boosted the standing of lesser-known academics such as Abdolkarim Soroush (No. 7) and Mahmood Mamdani (No. 9) as well as famed Nobel laureates like Muhammad Yunus (No. 2), Orhan Pamuk (No. 4), and Shirin Ebadi (No. 10). When all was said and done, the top non-Muslim on the list was Noam Chomsky in 11th place. Ironically, historian Bernard Lewis, who made his name by describing the rift between the Islamic world and West, came in thirteenth.

The top 20 list hardly looks as we expected, but any group that includes both the fiercely anti-Islamic activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (No. 15) and conservative Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi (No. 3) is sure to at least provoke discussion, which was really the main reason for having a poll in the first place. So, FP readers, have a look at the list and let us know what you think.

PS: For those radical fundamentalists who call themselves the Colbert Nation, your man was the top write-in vote.


Want fries with that Kalashnikov?

"Rocket propelled grenades" might not sound like appetizing fare, but locals are flocking to "Buns and Guns," a new fast-food restaurant in southern Lebanon, to get a taste of the explosive dish (actually just chicken on a skewer) and other arms-themed delicacies. Decorated with camoflauge netting and fake weapons, the joint is owned by Yousif Ibrahim, who explains his marketing approach this way:

My goal was to make people laugh before they ask me why weapons. The important thing is that they laugh."

But recent events in Lebanon are no laughing matter.

Clashes in northern Lebanon between anti and pro-Syrian factions have resulted in six deaths since yesterday, despite a recent political agreement that led to the election of President Michel Suleiman and progress toward creating a government of national unity. This is a troubling blow for the country, which just weeks ago was experiencing general calm and a return of an important source of income -- tourists.

Now, patrons might see less humor in "Buns and Guns," which is located in area where the militant party Hezbollah enjoys great power and popularity. Himself a Hezbollah supporter, Ibrahim makes light of accusations against the group by serving "terrorist bread" at his restaurant. But while a sandwich might not kill his customers, factional fighting in Lebanon very well could, and the recent clashes are a reminder that the country's decades-long instability is far from over.