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  • ivanildotrindade 12:51 am on May 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brazil soccer apparel, Cleveland Clinic, international friends, , Middle East, Skype   

    Kuwait via Lodi, OH 

    Not too long ago my wife and I were shopping at a mall not too far from our home. While there, we spotted a young man wearing full Brazilian soccer apparel. We both thought he was from Brazil but it turned out he was from Kuwait. He just loved Brazilian soccer that much!

    Well, we connected well with him and I invited him to come to our house and share a meal with us. Instead, he surprised me and invited me to come to his house in Cleveland. After getting lost, I found the apartment where my new friend, Ahmed, lived. I was ushered into the multi-apartment complex where he lived (400 apartments!) and was brought inside a unit that looked like it was empty.

    Soon, his friends began to arrive. They were family members, acquaintances, even a rental car agent who came to do business as we were talking. Turned out the entire apartment complex was filled primarily with people from the Middle East, whose relatives were being treated for various conditions at the Cleveland Clinic. In Ahmed’s case, he had a younger brother who was treated for a brain tumor, and he also had an uncle, whom I got to meet that evening, who was back in the U.S. for a follow up visit one year after his heart surgery there.

    I found out that the Kuwait government-funded the entire trip for Ahmed and several of his siblings, including two of his sisters and his mom to accompany his brother. And all their expenses were paid, including the apartment they were living in and the one where I found myself, which was used only “to receive friends”!

    We sat on the floor, all the men were smoking and speaking in Arabic, and I was being introduced to everyone who came in. I tried to sit cross-legged, and finally gave up, asking politely if I could spread my legs away from everyone’s view, which they allowed me to do, not without laughing at my feeble attempts to feel comfortable in that position.

    The only time I saw the women was when they came into the room to bring the food – freshly made lamb, salads, breads, tea, rice, etc. – a veritable feast. I sat there with my new friends, taking in the sight, enjoying the food, which I ate with my hands like everybody else, and then stayed a long time afterwards until my wife called me to see if everything was okay.

    I came home, not expecting to see Ahmed again, but soon before he returned to Kuwait, he invited me to another feast. Months later, as I was checking my messages on Skype, I got a live connection via video with Ahmed, all the way from Kuwait. I still think and pray for my friend Ahmed and his family on a regular basis. Maybe one of these days I will go see him in Kuwait. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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  • ivanildotrindade 11:26 pm on March 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: baha'is, burning the koran, chinese government, Falun Gong, Iran, , karaite jews, Middle East, preaching hatred, religious hatred, religious minorities, sephardic jews, Sufism, tibetan buddhists, uighur, zoroastrians   

    Burning the Koran is unintelligent 

    To be sure, Christians are not the only religious minority being persecuted around the world. In Chinese, the Falun Gong followers have experienced the ire, violence and irrationality of the Chinese establishment. The practices against this group are abhorrent. In China the Uighur (Muslim minority) suffer great persecution. In fact, just today we read of about 20 Uighur who were killed by police in the Xijiang Province. Now the police claims that this was a violent mob attacking civilians, but it is a known fact that the Chinese government is notorious for treating this group harshly because of their independence stance and refusal to assimilate to Chinese ways. (For a different view on how the Chinese government is accommodating to the Muslims in China, go here). Of course the oppression of Tibetan Buddhist is also an undeniable fact of our times.

    In the case of “Sufism,” a mystic brand of Islam, the persecution comes from all sides. Both Sunni and Shia persecute Sufis, whether in India, Pakistan, the Middle East or Iran. In India Sufism has been basically eradicated and violent attacks by Muslim extreme groups continue almost on a daily basis. Iran persecutes Baha’is and throughout history Muslims have persecuted Christians who have persecuted Zoroastrians who have persecuted Zoroastrians splinter groups.  In ancient times the Sephardic Jews were expelled from Catholic Spain but before that happened the Rabbinical Jews expelled the Karaite Jews from Spain. And the circle of hate goes on and on.

    I don’t know about you but I get so tired of “religious wars.” I know that the “war” for those of us who live in the West is mostly one of words, but for many people in other countries it is a matter of life and death and somehow it must stop. That is why I get so infuriated whenever I hear anyone talking about burning the Koran. How can anyone be so stupid? Just today we learned about more troops being killed in Afghanistan over what has been called an “accidental” burning of copies of the Koran. How can you burn copies of the Koran “accidentally” in a military base? I am not buying. At the same time, I cannot condone the violence. But I do understand that for Muslims burning the Koran would be like burning the incarnate Christ for Christians. But how many people get that? I wouldn’t kill for Christ, because he would be slightly against it (:)), but I would raise a hell of a stink.

    So I offer these posts over the last couple of days as tools to help us understand better what is going on in our world. I remain vehemently opposed to violence and I wish preachers of religion would refrain from encouraging people to other human beings just because they are different. Nothing could be more contrary to the teaching of Jesus.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
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