I just realized that for about two months we have a member calling himself "Jihad". In his profile he defines himself as a "Russian muslim", [deleted a part]. I feel insulted and threatened [deleted a part].

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    $\begingroup$ Would you object to the user name "Crusade"? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 30 '14 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia says that jihad can also refer to a spiritual struggle, IOW "fight against oneself". I'm not a scholar on Islam, so I do not know the relative frequencies of the meanings. Anyway, reading that article left me with the impression that the Western media (as well as the hotheads calling themselves jihadists) may have colored the word, and caused the meaning of "Holy War against infidels" to be prevalent. Based on that I'm reluctant to act. I am a bit ashamed of my ignorance. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 30 '14 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm. Please don't belittle another user's feelings of unease, when it is unclear whether they are based on actual threats or just consequences of an unfamiliar multicultural encounter - misinterpreted or not. Surely it is better that we all educate ourselves and each other. . $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 30 '14 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ This site has a chatroom named "The Crusade of Answers", with "Our goal: total annihilation!" in the subtitle. Maybe the name should be periodically updated to "The Jihad of Answers" for better balance. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 30 '14 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that this community would accept racism, either. $\endgroup$ – teadawg1337 Dec 30 '14 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that you don't know anything about what the Jihad is, so.. you feel insulted just by a lack of knowledge but perhaps you may add a question here ;-). $\endgroup$ – user169373 Jan 1 '15 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque There is a chat room with the word "crusade" in its name here. $\endgroup$ – user180918 Feb 24 '15 at 0:01

Jihad is also a (given) name; see the disambiguation page of Wikipedia for example to find several people having this name and a Wikipedia page.

Or, search a bibliographic database, like MathSciNet or Zentralblatt MATH. I just did so for the latter "Jihad" in the author field yields 10 publishing mathematicians that have that name.

It is at least possible, and not unlikely, the user simply uses their actual (given) name. Anyway, since it can be a given name, I do not see a problem with it being used as a username (unless there are other things in the profile that give it a problematic tone, which in the current case is not the case as far as I know).

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    $\begingroup$ funny name that would be $\endgroup$ – Irrational Person Dec 30 '14 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ Thinking about it, on a personal note, I recall: just yesterday I had a friendly/humorous encounter with a user with that username and today I noted a good answer of them. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 30 '14 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @313: It is not in the username. It is in the way a person behaves. We had a user carrying the name of possibly the best algebraic geometer of the 20th century kicked out, because he was behaving badly. If a username raises an eyebrow then the actions will be looked at with a magnifying glass. Not unlike a user who has been warned for abusive behavior by the moderators - they are also under a loop. The same applies here. It is possible that in your mind you were playing devil's advocate, but I judged that to be in poor taste for this somewhat delicate thread. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 2 '15 at 22:04

I haven't found anything threatening in the history of either of the users with this name. Therefore I will not do anything at this time. I obviously did not check all their posts, so I may have missed something.

Christian, if you have been the target of a verbal threat from either of these users, please @-ping me (you can do this "semiprivately" from one of my answers) or send me an e-mail. Alternatively you can flag the post (or the thread) where the threat occurred, and a moderator will further investigate the matter.

The same advice applies to all users and all unpleasant encounters. Just flag it, and leave. Don't let yourself to get drawn into it.

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    $\begingroup$ ...and avoid global politics. We have enough site related politics as it is, no need to add real-world politics into the mix! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 30 '14 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Have you considered contacting the users to let them know how the word is often understood by Americans? They might not even know that their username is making some people uncomfortable! $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 23:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl They are uncomfortable by a lack of knowledge about islam. By essence, a mathematician is rigorous, isn't it? One should try to learn what jihad is and not what we think it represents. $\endgroup$ – user169373 Jan 1 '15 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl: I briefly considered it, but rejected the possibility as I did not find anything to justify such an intrusion to their privacy. This was a judgement call. I don't claim to be good at this, but inaction feels right this time. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 2 '15 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: This, right there, is why you won't be the head of a major Agency, à la NSA. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 3 '15 at 12:28

Jihad by definition doesn't mean to kill westerners. I am uneasy about the names but I don't let it concern me and neither should you. Since it can't be proven one way or the other of their intention, forcefully changing the name is wrong. This action can cause people to dispise westerns when they had no problem before. Don't let fear of what you don't understand or the unknown cloud your judgement.

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    $\begingroup$ Why the downvote? $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 30 '14 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ While I agree with the overall message, I must vehemently disagree on two points: $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ (1) that a prerequisite for action is that the user must actually have the intention of causing problems. Not only are there nasty people that toe the line by pretending to be just reasonable enough to cause others to doubt their intention, but well-meaning people can commit egregious offense without having the slightest clue they have done so. We can't hamstring authorities in the first case, and while we shouldn't condemn users of the second type, we can't let the offense go unchallenged either. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ (2) that proof is actually required, assuming you mean a level of proof resembling what is required to get a conviction in a court of law. While some level of proof is, of course, required for things, the standard appropriate for this setting is much much lower. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ But anyways, +1 for the overall message; I just couldn't justify giving the +1 without actually presenting my objections to how it was presented. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ I do not assume otherwise; I agree with your message, I just vigorously disagree with the argument used to justify the message. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl I understand your first point trust me. But I view this total different since this word has a bad wrap due to people who twist the message and words of the Quran for pure evil. Therefore, we can't vilify a word. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 30 '14 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not saying we should vilify the word "jihad", but I will say that we can and should vilify some words, and thus must reject an argument that says we can't vilify the word "jihad" because we can't vilify words. In fact, I bet I can come up with a word you very much do vilify. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl I am game what word is that? (This isn't a challenge more of curiosity) $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 30 '14 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl I understand. That world only had one meaning though unlike Jihad. You can delete your comment if you want as well. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 30 '14 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ Anyways, I agree that "jihad" is a word that, in Arabic, has a variety of meanings I believe to be very analogous to the variety of meanings of the English word "crusade". We have no good reason to assume ill-intent on behalf of one who uses the word. But on the other hand, we cannot dismiss out-of-hand the concerns of people who feel intimidated/offended by the word either. The two concerns must be balanced, and the right balance today is probably to educate both sides so that westerners recognize that it wasn't meant badly, and Arabs don't use the word casually and unwittingly offend. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 30 '14 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ Although the more I think about it, this situation seems very striking: antidiscrimination attitudes are usually "the person who is offending others or making them uncomfortable should change their behavior", and trying to tell the offended person that no offense was meant and they really shouldn't take offense is one of those things that is considered as offensive as the original comments and something you Shall Not Do. But here, that is precisely what we are doing. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 31 '14 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl the user in question appears to be Russian (at least self-identified as such), it is not clear why you bring up Arabs. It is also not even clear a word is used. As I explained it is a name. It is possible this is that person's name; you hardly can reproach somebody using their name as displayname. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 31 '14 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: There are Muslims in Russia, and they may have names from the Quran, or in generally in Arabic. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 31 '14 at 5:55

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