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A Jihad For A Jihad

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There are many places in the developing world where religious groups come to power and begin the fanatical murder and systematic oppression of the unfaithful.

It’s common enough that widespread coverage of religious violence has brought the words “Jihad” and “Infidel” into our common American vocabulary.

Infidel is a latin word meaning “faithless”.

Jihad is an Arabic word that means “Holy War”.

When used in conjunction the two words conjure images of bearded men wielding swords and rifles, seemingly bent on establishing self-rule under Islamic law.

These two words have also become common place on Christian radio.  Just a cursory review of your local station will reveal many teachers claiming to expose “the truth” about Islam, and sermons from regional preachers quick to use Muslims to grind their ideological axes against.

This week I listened to a Christian radio station for 20 minutes and heard the words “Jew”, “Arab”, “Muslim”, “Jihad”, “end times”, “Jerusalem”, “beheading” and “Allah”, but never heard “Jesus”.

This isn’t a post about “the Muslims”; we already have enough of that.

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The Weight Of Free Speech

Mohammed Abu Zaid

David Lin hopes to open a restaurant next year and his strategy is bit different. While good food will be on the menu, the exterior of his restaurant features a mural depicting Chinese police officers beating a demonstrator while a Tibetan monk sets himself on fire.  Lin says that it’s a political statement about China’s human rights abuses.

Of course the Chinese government disapproves.

Last week two government officials wanted to have the mural removed.

They ran into a bit of a problem, David Lin doesn’t live in China, he lives in Corvallis, Oregon. The Taiwanese immigrant wants everyone to know that he is opposed to the communist government of China.  The Chinese government sent the officials from their consulate in San Francisco to see if the Mayor of Corvallis would put an end to Mr Lin’s mural.

Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning refused.  She explained to the men that Americans have the right to say what they want to say.  That right is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  That Constitution is one of the reasons Mr. Lin moved  to the United States.

What’s interesting is that the Government of China travelled all the way to Oregon to see if our government would take away Mr Lin’s right to express his opinion.  I suppoe this didn’t seem odd to them because they not only oppose free speech, they have also never experienced it… or its side effects.

If it sounds oppressive and fascist that someone would not only monitor what is being said about their country in someone else’s country, and then travel to that other country to try to get them to enforce your laws in their country, you probably also wouldn’t like what happened in Libya this week.

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The Space Between

I was warned this week that men were going to try to hold my hand.

Seriously.

I’m in Africa right now and one of the trip leaders told me to expect that grown men might try to take me by hand as we were walking together.  They also told me not to worry about it because it’s a perfectly normal thing for an African man to do with his friend.

This didn’t make me any less anxious, mostly because I’m not an African man.

It made me think about what I would do if an African man took me by the hand while we are walking…

Would I instinctively flinch?

I don’t want to be offensive.

Would I just act naturally?

How do you act naturally?

I’ve never held hands, as a grown man, with another grown man before.

What’s the protocol?

Do I swing my arms?

How hard should I grip?

Who’s thumb goes on top?

Will we interlock our fingers?

What do I do when our hands get sweaty?

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO LET GO?

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