IF Dante Alighieri were alive today, he probably would find the whole Iraqi nation in his Purgatorio.

After several weeks of fighting, bloodshed and destruction, the US-led coalition forces finally demolished the decades-old dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein. The cost was high but Iraqis shown by CNN rejoicing in the streets of Bagdad and in other parts of Iraq couldn’t care less. They are free, unless another Saddam clone emerges (and I’m not talking about the genetic kind). Now begins a slow and painful period of political purging, when trust of all types and degrees becomes a most sought-after commodity.

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In a desperate attempt to rally the Arab nation behind his doomed cause, Saddam and his minions called for a holy war or what our Muslim brothers call jihad.

A short reminder to Saddam, wherever or whatever he is right now (alive or not): it’s never about religion, Mr. Hussein. If it were, we might as well elect Bush as Pope. In fact Pope John Paul II himself asked the coalition forces to reconsider its actions.

At least, Fidel Castro never resorted to such a detestable tactic.

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I have always been a staunch supporter of this Iraq war. Despite making myself vulnerable to criticisms from peers and people of this Catholic institution, I have always believed that the only way to make Saddam listen to persistent calls to disarm is to communicate to him in the language he knows best—through forcible means.

However, it is also undeniable that Iraq (in Saddam’s absence) is a headless country right now and the leadership void is evident in the rampant pilfering in Iraqi streets. Thus, law and order is an immediate and necessary issue that should be addressed. The coalition wants its people to be in control. Interestingly, United Nations Security Council members who opposed this war are also speaking their minds as to how Iraq should be run at the moment.

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Recalling summer's stories

Where is the voice of the Iraqi people in this equation?

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Last Easter Sunday, I made an early trip to the grocery store. As the cashier was running my purchase through the IR (infrared) reader, I managed to overhear a casual conversation between some of the grocery’s staff. The topic: Jesus’ triumph over sin. It would have been a pleasant and welcome conversation had it not been for the fact that one of the staff, asserting his ‘faith’, uttered that if the rest doesn’t agree with him, they may as well “kalimutan na ang pagiging magkaibigan.”

It is quite disturbing that some people still turn religion into a cause for discord. I personally believe that religion should be a cause to celebrate and not to fight over.

I don’t think God intended men to fight over Him, do you? Peace.

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