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Just as the dust is settling from the devastating explosions in Paris last November, we are bitterly reminded once again of the continued global struggle against terror and violence.  Our headlines scream now-familiar phrases like, ‘terrorist attacks,’ ‘many dead,’ and ‘explosions,’ as Brussels faces a fresh wave of terrorism.  These graphic terms are then associated with words such as, ‘jihadism,’ ‘Islam,’ and ‘Muslim.’  To see one phrase without the other approaches the realm of absurdity to many, as the media has conditioned us to expect and presume a connection.  Though terrorist groups like ISIS exist and assert their influence and violence across the world, we are all the victims of their crimes against humanity, including those who are culturally bound to Islam.  Unfortunately, Islamophobia is the result of these sensational media headlines, and many see it as a right to be defended rather than a parasite that eats away our very bond to humankind.

This year, we have the honor to screen Marc Fouchard’s The Way of Tea amongst our selections. The short film follows the interaction between Alex, a young skinhead, and Malik, an Arabic store owner, as they struggle to find peace between each other on a cold night in northern France.  The two chat over Malik’s offering of what may be all that is needed to restore harmony: a cup of warm tea for another fellow civilian. Peaceful understandings are few and far between in this trying time of spitfire hatred, but reminders like this one bring us back to where we should be.

Written by Chrissy Liu

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