Skateboarder an overnight sensation after rescuing Quran
(RNS) At the end of a summer characterized by unprecedented levels
of Islamophobia, Muslim Americans and their allies have found an
expected reason to smile: Jake Isom, a skateboarder with a rat-tail from
Last Saturday (Sept. 18), Isom, 23, snatched a kerosene-soaked Koran
from a grill in a city park before David Grisham, head of a local
Christian group known as Repent Amarillo, could set it afire.
Isom's telling of the story to a local news station went viral,
receiving close to 300,000 views on YouTube.
"I snuck-up behind him and took his Quran. He said something about
burning a Quran, and I was like `Dude, you HAVE no Quran, and ran off,"
Isom, recounts in the news clip in an accent best described as
Since then, Isom, who said he doesn't have any "set beliefs," has
been immortalized on The Daily Show, a tribute page on Facebook and on
T-shirts. He has fulfilled a long-held ambition to appear in High Times
magazine, while a Google search of "Dude, you have no Quran," turns up
dozens of hits .
To Muslims and non-Muslims, Isom has become an overnight folk hero,
a modern-day blend of Jeff Spicoli (the stoned surfer from "Fast Times
At Ridgemont High") and Saladin (the Muslim leader who fought the
"What's great about this is that it's coming from Joe America," said
Shahed Amanullah, editor of AltMuslim.com, a web magazine. "What he did,
and the way people responded, gives me more faith in America than
anything any politician or media celebrity could do."
"I wish every discontented Muslim overseas could see this," said
Amanullah. "It shows that Americans aren't ignorant, that they're not
out to get Muslims. This guy, he's helping Muslims."
Not everyone applauded Isom. At the conservative website
FreeRepublic.com, commentators said Isom should be jailed for stealing
Grisham's copy of the Quran. "Yet this MTV generation would stand by and
let people burn American flags," said one commenter.
For his part, Isom said he would do it again.
"This is America, and we're not supposed to be like that," he said
in an interview. "I don't care if it's a Quran or a Bible, I would stop
anyone from doing either, because we don't stand for that kind of
religious bigotry here, and I want to keep it that way."