Tuesday, January 04, 2005
A reader Jeff Raleigh reports on the holidays in Afghanistan:
"It's Christmas Eve 2004 and I, along with about 70 other State Department employees and some 24,000 US and Coalition forces are getting ready to celebrate the Birth of Christ in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan! When we read news reports from the States about the growing controversy over the very name of this Holiday, we all have to laugh. Here, in an Islamic State, Americans are allowed to put up Christmas decorations, sing Christmas carols and celebrate Christmas without fear that the Afghan version of the ACLU will demand that we call them 'Holiday decorations' or force us to deny the existence of Santa Claus. My Afghan friends, who universally wish me 'Merry Christmas', just shake their heads when they read stories about a Virginia 7th grader who was asked to leave a school dance for wearing a Santa Claus outfit! So those of us here in an Islamic state will just keep talking about Christmas while you in the States choose you words carefully to make certain the no hint of 'Christmas' escape your lips in a public place."Islamic states, of course, are not quite used to the idea of the separation of church and state, certainly nowhere near to the American extent. But it's good to know that the people of Afghanistan, unlike, say, their Saudi coreligionists, are pretty relaxed about Christianity, too.