Ukraine's Mecca nightclub is the latest institution to take part in what has become a well-rehearsed ritual: changing its name to avoid offending Muslims. In this case, Kiev bureaucrats "persuaded" the owner to drop the name after local Muslims objected:

The Muslims of Kiev reportedly referred to the club's name, Mecca, as "an opened provocation."

"Giving names of Muslim holy places to hot spots shows utter contempt for Muslims of the Ukraine and the whole world. We, therefore, demand to prohibit entertainment facilities to use religious notions," the statement by followers of Islam said.

Among the many similar examples:

  • The Middlesex Crusaders, a prominent cricket club that competes in England and Wales, announced in February that henceforth it will be known as the Panthers. It had received "'one or two' complaints from Muslim and Jewish communities concerned that the name was a reference to the medieval Christian crusades against other faiths."
  • Late last year it was revealed that the historic Saracen's Head pub in Birmingham, England, would be renamed Saint Nicholas Place. Europeans used "Saracen" to describe Muslims during the Middle Ages. The pub's name was changed because it is "offensive to Muslims," though the Birmingham Mail could cite no Muslims who took offense.

  • In 2007 the Securities Industry Regulatory Authority (SIRA), a new U.S.-based body charged with overseeing brokerages, was renamed the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The reason: SIRA "could … be considered offensive because of its similarity to an Arabic term used to refer to the traditional biographies of Muhammad."

What do we make of this trend? On the one hand, it is part of a broader pattern of changing names and symbols to soothe protected minorities. The movement to retire American Indian mascots is a leading example. Just ask Chief Illiniwek.

On the other hand, while organizations are free to name and rename themselves as they deem appropriate — and best for business — one cannot help but wonder if fear plays a role where Muslim sensibilities are involved. Did images of the Danish cartoon riots or the firebombing linked to Sherry Jones' novel The Jewel of Medina spring to mind when Mecca's owner heard his establishment called a "provocation"? Exactly what might be provoked?

Thus we see how the acts of violent Islamists can advance, rather than inhibit, the mission of nonviolent Islamists. Soft-spoken men demand that certain practices be outlawed or otherwise extinguished — as memories of terrorism lurk in the background, providing the "or else."