World Bulletin / News Desk
A graphic designer living in Germany launched an initiative to break rising prejudice against Muslims.
Melih Kesmen says the idea to start with “styleislam” came up when insulting cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) was published in Denmark.
Kesmen says Muslims and Non-Muslims had to talk each other, adding “My intention was to make people curious with eye-catching messages on T-Shirts”.
World Bulletin interviewed Kesmen on his initiative very popular these days.
World Bulletin: Tell a little about your backround and how did you came up with the idea of t-shirts?
Melih Kesmen: I am a graphic designer from Germany. I studied graphic-design in Dortmund. For many years, I was active as a graffiti artist.
Graffiti is a straight and honest way to express yourself and your message. At that time I learned a lot and improved my skills.
Unfortunately the reason to start with styleislam could be a better one. The first idea came up while they published the cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH). Not the cartoons but the intention made me angry. Because of many reasons the situation between Muslims and the western world was very tense anyway and unnecessarily these cartoons heat-up the situation even more. I thought to myself that the future between the cultures is nothing without Communication. Muslims had to talk to Non-Muslims and the other way around. And the best reason to start a conversation could be curiosity. My intention was to make people curious with eye-catching messages on T-Shirts…
WB: How long the Styleislam have been going on?
MK: We have started in October of 2007. It was during Ramadan.
WB: How many clients do you have and from which country?
MK: It´s hard to tell an exact number. We also sell on Events and Festivals all over Europe and Turkey. But it should be a few thousand customers all over the world now.
WB: How do you choose the messages? Have there been some, that had been too provocative?
MK: It´s very different how the ideas come up for a motif. Sometimes you walk down the streets and have an interesting experience. Other times you here a conversation or get an idea while you watch TV. It´s like writing a Song or painting a picture. The inspiration has to come at the right time in the right place!
Our intention was never to provoke. But if some people still feel provoked, they should take a minute and inform themselves. Styleislam is spreading peaceful messages. Let me give you an example: The Word “Muslim” in Arabic means: one who surrenders God, active participle of ‘aslama, to surrender God and the motif -Jesus is a Muslim- has got an obvious meaning. All Prophets from Abraham, Moses, Jacob to Muhammad are surrender to God.
WB: What has been the reaction of the Islamic community?
MK: Most of the reactions were straight positive. It was like the Muslim community was waiting for Styleislam. A contemporary way to communicate the peaceful message of Islam.
WB: What do you think about the Muslim reactions for exp. towards the Danish cartoon year 2005?
MK: Of course we can criticize the anger of the Muslim world. By criticizing the one side we should not forget the other.
In my opinion these cartoons were completely senseless. Even freedom of opinion was just a plea. I think that our world needs some hope, peace and a constructively dialog between the Muslim and the Non-Muslims world.
WB: How well humoristic t-shirts go with the idea of Islam?
MK: In my opinion it goes very good with the idea of Islam. Even the Prophet Muhammad said that “SMILING IS CHARITY”. He was humorous and made jokes with his companions. Unfortunately even the Muslims themselves forgot this reality. But exact for that reason styleislam starts with the Islamic-council in Germany a nationwide “comedy-contest”. We want to challenge the Muslims how they deal with their religion in relation to humor. For further information you can go to: http://www.waymo.de/comedycontest/