The story fizzled fairly quickly here, but a few days later, the Star Tribune got a call from a Muslim educator and publisher in Saudi Arabia who said that it has become a hot-button issue there. Esam Mudeer, a lecturer in comparative religion, challenged Friedman to a debate.
Mudeer said that he's not angry with Friedman, although he admits that a lot of people in his part of the world are. He sees a debate as a way of calming things down.
"I'm not asking him for an apology. I'm not asking him for a change of heart. He's entitled to his point of view the same way I am," he said. "He made a statement. The best way to deal with that is with another statement. I see this as an opportunity for dialogue."
Mudeer made his debate request to the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in New York, which wants to put the incident behind it and isn't interested. But he hopes that even offering to talk will help.
"We don't want to leave this for the fanatics to decide," he said. "People here [in Saudi Arabia] are angry. They are furious. And they have every right to be angry, but they need to channel that anger into something useful."