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.