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An Afghan group of Muslim “holy warriors” known for cutting the heads off their enemies have warned barbers in a Pakistani border town not to shave off or trim their customers’ beards. “Barbers! Correct yourselves,” said the handwritten, Pashto-language pamphlets. “Any barber shop where acts against Shariah — shaving or cutting of beards — are seen, are given a final warning to stop this…and if they do not stop, they should take responsibility for whatever harm they come to” (Associated Press, Feb. 12).
Johnstown Primary School in Carmarthen, Wales, has banned the making of Mother’s Day cards this year because the headmistress does not want to upset children without a mother. Helen Starkey has ended the tradition, she says, in the interests of “sensitivity” (Daily Mail, Feb. 7).
After a break of 16 centuries, Greek pagans are worshiping the ancient gods of Mount Olympus again. Armed with white doves, a priestess calling herself “Peppa,” along with her toga-clad entourage of men, babbled Orphic hymns into the Attic skies at the Temple of Zeus. Peppa, a former advertising executive, successfully defied furious Greek officials. Riot police gathered at the second-century temple’s gates were unwilling to stop the ceremony for fear of provoking a violent confrontation. “Sixteen and a half centuries is a very long time to wait,” she said. “After so many years of Christian persecution we were finally able to call on Zeus, our king-god, to bring peace to the world ahead of the  Olympics” (Guardian, Feb. 1).
Some Italians celebrated Mardi Gras this year in imitation of Christ — by wearing the “Jesus Party Wig.” The $10 costume kit, which is made in China, comes complete with a flowing beard and a plastic crown of thorns. A luxury version, selling for $20, adds a long white tunic and a plastic staff. Senior Vatican figures called it “blasphemous” and “shameful” (Daily Telegraph, Feb. 2).
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