The death of pop star Michael Jackson has, at least for the moment, overwhelmed virtually all other global news. Iran what? South Carolina governor who? Even the death of Farrah Fawcett has been overshadowed by the death of America's quirky king of pop music.
And, of course, there is a Middle East angle to the story.
In one of the less-well-known chapters of the pop star's life, Michael Jackson spent nearly a year, off-and-on, in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain.
Bahrain became something of a refuge for Jackson after his 2005 trial on child abuse charges ended with acquittals on all charges.
While the jury cleared Jackson, the entertainer lived with a cloud of doubt that shadowed his life until the end.
While Jackson found some refuge in Bahrain, his quirky behavior was still on display in the Persian Gulf.
In 2006, Jackson was photographed at a Bahrain mall wearing full black covering worn by conservative Muslim women in the Gulf. Was he trying to hide from the media -- or was it just Michael being Michael?
Jackson was a guest of the Bahrain king's son, who eventually sued Jackson for breach of contract in a case ultimately settled out-of-court.
As Juan Cole notes at Informed Comment, Michael's brother Jermaine converted to Islam and offered his younger brother guidance on being a Muslim.
As a tribute to Jackson's global appeal, check out this clip of a group of young Saudi men in traditional dress with an MJ dub added after-the-fact...
And, while we're on the subject of unconventional admiration for Jackson, one of my favorites is this rendition of "Thriller" done by 1,500 members of a Philippine prison.
The clip has already been viewed about 24 million times...
UPDATE: In one of the many tributes to MJ, the Philippine prisoners unveiled their own this weekend. This one is nine-minutes long and includes the other songs the inmates performed as part of their routine...