This time of year, when you take a walk in the streets of Dakar—the capital city of Senegal, that is 92%-95% Muslim in one of the hottest parts of the world, you stumble upon decorated snowmen, Christmas trees with cotton snowballs, traditional masks covered in Christmas lights. It lifts your spirits and gives you hope the end of the world might not be as near as it seems.
The other day I told someone here I love the religious tolerance in Senegal. They told me it’s not “religious tolerance” but “solidarity.” I love that.
In Senegal, the intersections between culture and religion are blurry and magical. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term “tolerance.” Something about it inherently means there is something wrong about the other—that it has to be “tolerated.” It’s like how you have to tolerate your kleptomaniac friend or your hypochondriac relative. The word ‘tolerance’ gives us …
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