Anti-jihad ads are hate speech and erroneous
TO THE EDITOR:
While I agree with Cody Welton’s position that the town of Chapel Hill should allow political and religious messages to promote community discourse, I disagree with his casual dismissal of the anti-jihad ads as not constituting hate speech.
I am also highly taken aback by his offensive conflation of the concept of “jihad” with “suicide attacks.” A commonly held misconception of the Islamic faith is that the concept of jihad equals violence or holy war.
While I am neither a Muslim nor an expert on Islam, I have gained a basic understanding of the concept of “jihad” through conversations with Muslim friends and colleagues in the U.S. and the Middle East.
While terrorist groups like al-Qaeda have co-opted the sacred concept of jihad as an excuse for the terrible acts of violence that they commit, the concept actually refers to an internal struggle that a Muslim experiences as they attempt to live their lives in accordance with Islam.
The direct translation of the Arabic word “jihad” simply means “struggle,” and refers more to an inward struggle, much like the Christian concept of fighting against the pull of sins like gluttony, lust or greed.
The anti-jihad ads do much more than initiate “political discourse”— they desecrate one of the most sacred and personal aspects of Islam, and prevent a real discourse on the problem of fundamentalist violence from taking place.
So yes, Chapel Hill should allow ads that promote discourse but not ads that relay offensive and erroneous material.
Linden Wait ’14