Map of lies
Sir-- The roadmap is one of the US's schemes to secure Israel and make us forget its crimes against the Palestinians. I believe that the roadmap aims to drive a large wedge between the Palestinians.
Why do the Arabs forget history? Where are Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338? Where is the Oslo agreement? Where are the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations? Many Arabs now believe that the roadmap is another American lie.
We must call for an end to aggression before calling for an end to resistance; resistance must continue as long as there is occupation. We must condemn the target killing by the Israeli forces.
Yes, negotiations should continue, but so should resistance.
Sir-- I would like to refer to the statement made by PA Labour Minister Ghassan Khatib: "We know that if we get trapped in this phase..."
It is a fear well understood and I think that in order to avoid this trap (if it is a trap -- because we really don't know), the Palestinians should insist to add few dis- incentive conditions that will make it unworthy to stay in stage three.
Sir-- 'Bypass roadmap' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 May - 4 June) is covert anti-Semitism disguised as pseudo-intellectualism. It is unfit for Al- Ahram Weekly to host such bigots.
Sir-- Benjamin Counsell's excellent piece 'Bypass roadmap' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 May - 4 June) ought to be read by every American. It helps to dispel the notion that the US and Israel have congruent foreign and domestic agendas based on our "shared values".
A one-state/universal suffrage solution sounds like what Count Bernadotte proposed in 1948. The Stern gang murdered him for merely suggesting it. More recently, Azmi Bishara has proposed a similar plan. The key to changing US public opinion may lie in exposing the apartheid-like, theocratic nature of the State of Israel and calling for a pluralistic, secular democracy in a re-unified Palestine.
May the ballot replace the bullet in the "Holy Land".
James E Knight
Sir-- In pursuit of peace while moving forward, you must moderate your claims. North, South, West and East while moving forward, we solidify our aims. Displaying tact while moving forward, we remind you of our size.
As to the facts of moving forward, in war the weaker traditionally dies. As a foundation for moving forward, we build our cities on your land. And if you lack in moving forward, move or perish where you stand.
To be fair and balanced while moving forward, you must forget we done you wrong. And here's the knack for moving forward, victims forgive... oppressors move on.
Ola Zay Zoss
Sir-- I read 'In the land of the Greeks' (Al- Ahram Weekly, 27 March - 2 April) with great attention. I was disappointed to find that it apparently ignored some of the important contributions made by the Greek community to Egypt in fields other than industry and commerce. I am writing in response to this unfair and ungrateful article, which ignored the history of Greeks in Egypt, who have lived for centuries in this country in harmony and reciprocal respect with their Egyptian brothers.
The history of the modern Greek community in Egypt began with the Mohamed Ali dynasty. Mohamed Ali Pasha, ruler of Egypt, was born in Cavalla, Greece; he took great pride in his heritage and especially in the hard-working ethos of the Greeks.
Upon becoming the leader of Egypt, he encouraged the Greeks to immigrate to Egypt. Many did, and their positive contributions and achievements are evident in almost every facet of Egyptian life; for example, the very beautiful Mohamed Ali Pacha mosque, where his remains are buried. The design and execution of this mosque was by a Greek architect who copied exactly the Agia Sophia Cathedral -- the oldest church of Christianity dating back to the 6th Century AD and is in Constantinople (today known as Istanbul).
Daninos Pacha was responsible for the study of the High Dam of Aswan; my own cousin, Michael Economidis, was the chief engineer of the Heliopolis Company. He designed many of the monumental buildings of Heliopolis, its wide avenues and parks as well as the Indian style palace, later to become the resident of Baron Empin, the founder of Heliopolis. The late Parisis Belenis was responsible for the construction of the original desert road from Cairo to Alexandria.
In the medical field, the first modern hospital built in Egypt was the Greek Hospital of Alexandria, which opened in 1835; another hospital donation of the Cozzica family in Alexandria now carries the name of the late President Gamal Abdel-Nasser. The Greek hospital of Abbassiya was inaugurated in 1910 -- two years ago a large project was launched to modernise the hospital at a cost of LE5 million, in addition to the large sums and scientific instruments donated by the Government of Greece. Thousands of Egyptians are treated there, either free of charge or for minimal fees.
In the financial field, the National Bank of Egypt was founded in 1896 with the following capitals: 50 per cent by a British banker, 25 per cent by Constantine Salvagos, a Greek, and 25 per cent by Kattawi Pacha. In the field of land of reclamation, the late Nestor Gianaklis created a paradise in Abu Matamir in 1952, with an area of 10,000 feddans. Many other families were involved in land reclamation. In the field of cotton, it was a Greek, the late Sakellaridis, who discovered the finest variety of cotton anywhere, the world-famous long-staple cotton of Egypt. Many others were working in the cotton business like Zagora, Parakhimona, producing ever new varieties.
I would also like to mention the tobacco industries of the renowned families Dimitrino, Coutarellis, Gianacklis. The late Pialopoulos was dealing in woollen cloth (STIA), and in Alexandria the paper factory of Laghoudakis was among the country's most prominent. Tanneries with Greek owners were based in Alexandria and in Old Cairo.
In the food industry, the macaroni industries of Melachrinou, Antoniadis were well known. Another example was the cheese and butter production of Archyriou, Roussoglou and Paleoroutas. Chocolate-Biscuits and Toffee producers were: Daloghlou, Roussos, Repapis; Oil-soaps- vegetable fats (Salt & Soda) producers like Zerbinis were based in Kafr Al-Zayat.
The following company names were owned and run by Greek families: Alexandria Matches Co, Sarpakis Starch Production Company; Theodore Cozzzica & Abboud Pacha's Sugar Production Company had their factory in Hawamdiya; Cozzica White Alcohol Production Company was used by industries producing medicines; Mouratiadis, Zottos, Gianaclis produced alcoholic drinks; soft drinks were produced by Spathis, Vlassopoulos; the Nice Transport Company of Spetseropoulos; Pispinis, Moutopoulos companies. In the tourism sector, the Greeks played an extremely important role building hotels in Alexandria and Cairo, Port Said, Suez, Upper Egypt and Marsa Matrouh.
A most significant Greek contribution to Egyptian modern life has been in the restaurant business. In Cairo, there was the very famous St James Restaurant, featured in the French Guide Bleu and frequented by Winston Churchill, General Waivel, General Alexander, Agha Khan, and General Montgomery. Other known restaurants were Kursaal, Lappas, Covent Garden, Helmieh Palace, Parisiana, Union, Rex, Roy, Vassalos, Taverna.
In Giza, famous Greek-owned restaurants included Christo seafood restaurant, Casino de Pigeons, Andreas chain of restaurants. Restaurants in Alexandria include Zephirion in Abu Kir, Santa Lucia, Ritrovo, Mon Seigneru, Pastroudis, Asteria, Bodreiaut. Greek-owned patisseries were countless, such as Athineos, Trianon, Delices, Flucinger, Lourandos, Ala Kefak and Diamandakis.
Ignoring considerable pressure from the United States and Britain, Greece was the last country in the West to recognise Israel. Furthermore, Greece was punished because the late Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus was a sincere admirer and friend of Abdel-Nasser, as well as of other Arab countries. The Turkish army, with the help of the Americans and the British, occupied 37 per cent of Cyprus in 1974.
It is true that the Greek community in Egypt was an industrious one, greatly enhancing the economy and prosperity of its second homeland. But the relationship was not limited to business and commerce, but rather produced a genuine and deep-rooted love between our people and their adopted country. As an expression of that love, a cousin of mine, when she moved back to Greece in 1954, carried with her a bottle of dried Egyptian mud asking her family to place it in her tomb when she died. Among the former Egyptian-Greeks is another cousin, the world famous singer Demis Roussos, who was born in Kafr Zayed, and now lives between France and Greece. He returns to Egypt whenever he can and is full of love for this country.
Patriotic feelings for Egypt are strong among Greek Egyptians, such as was made evident during the Suez Crisis, in 1956, following Abdel- Nasser's nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The British and the French sought to cripple navigation in the Canal by withdrawing their pilots. Seventy Greek pilots remained steadfastly in their posts, despite enormous pressure and financial incentives that were offered to them. Due to their efforts, the traffic through the Suez channel continued to run smoothly, until Israel, Britain and France joined in their tripartite military aggression against Egypt.
The ties between Greeks and Egyptians remain strong. Currently, 120,000 Egyptians live and prosper in Greece, and many of them formed families with Greek companions and set down roots, finding a sense of home and familiarity that would be difficult to find anywhere else. For the bonds between Egyptians and Greeks have roots in thousands of years of historical, family and cultural exchanges.
Sir-- While replaying the images of the newly discovered "mass graves" in Iraq for propaganda purposes (disrespecting the value of human life by reducing its worth to cheap marketing stunts), the US mainstream media is conveniently forgetting that the US regime of Bush senior had an equal part to play in the creation of those mass graves. Not only did they encourage people to rise up against Saddam and then abandon them, they gave permission to Saddam to use his airspace to persecute them. This makes that regime equally guilty.
They also forget to make mention of the mass graves created by the US military in 1991 in Iraq, when it buried alive thousands of Iraqi soldiers in their bunkers -- by use of sand bulldozers -- soldiers who were surrendering even to the news media. I'm sure, once discovered, those mass graves will be blamed on Saddam as well.
People who kill innocents are all terrorists, they are all morally equivalent; some live in caves, others in palaces and yet others occupy the White House. Their games of tyranny and terror play out centre stage while the vast majority of humankind lives marginalised lives that are given value only when propaganda points can be scored.
Sir-- This is an open letter to President George W Bush, Mr Tony Blair, Mr Kofi Annan, heads of EU nations and Human Rights organisations.
We respectfully are sending this letter to you to express our concerns about the safety and security of tens of thousands of Ahwazi Arab political refugees and their families in Iraq. These refugees are from the Southwestern province of Khuzestan in Iran, who have escaped political repression and persecution by the Iranian government during the past two decades and sought refuge in southern Iraq. The pro-Iranian armed militia groups, namely the Badr Brigade, who crossed into Iraq after the collapse of the old regime, have revengefully subjected these refugees to killing and torture. The lives of these refugees are in immediate danger.
These refugees were expelled from their camps in the Al-Kut and Al-Amarah areas of southern Iraq; their homes and businesses were looted and burned. In the past few weeks, the Badr Brigade gunmen and thugs, who also include disguised Iranian security agents such as Pasdaran, have been seen summarily executing Iranian Arab refugees as well as other unarmed Iranian opposition groups.
The besieged ethnic Arab refugees are members of the Iranian Arab ethnic nationality, who have been fighting for their political and cultural autonomy and self-rule since 1925 when the emergent nation-state of Iran took control of their autonomous oil-rich province. Historically called Arabistan, in 1936 the regime of Iran renamed it Khuzestan. The estimated population of ethnic Arabs in the Khuzestan province according to various sources ranges from four to six million. The Iranian government draws 90 per cent of its income from Khuzestan oil fields, where oil reserves rival those of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
In the name of minorities' rights, we urge you to protect the Ahwazi (Iranian) Arab refugees from the Badr Brigade and the disguised Iranian agents operating in Iraq.
Ahwazi Human Rights Committee (AHRC)
New York, NY
Sir-- Arab States for sale or for rent, this is the current state of the Arabs and the dream of Mr Bush that has recently become true. With the US victory and toppling of the Iraqi regime, there are many thorny issues which await the Arabs. First of all is the dismantling of the Arab nation by US-led policies in the region.
Stop dithering, Arabs, and for once do anything for yourselves. Looting wherever you go in Iraq is simply an image of our future if we continue to do nothing. Now it's the Iraqi people's turn, but eventually we will be put in the same basket.
I call on the UN not to give the US government a free rein in Iraq; they are not rebuilding the country, as they claim, they are destroying it again. I call on Arab leaders to awaken from their deep slumber. Arabness will be changed beyond the recognition.
All who suffer
Sir-- Sometimes I wonder why the international Arab press doesn't care about the horrors going on in Algeria? Why are Muslim intellectuals silent about the torture of Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian government? The same goes for the Kurds by the Turkish government.
Are they only concerned about their own problems and forgetting the other Muslims?
Sir-- I believe there can be no absolutism, neither political, economic, intellectual nor religious because every people and country must be free to decide their own destiny. That's why the American way of life seems to be an example of democracy, but is not the only model. The history of each country is rich enough to map out its individual history. Every people must believe that without freedom and justice, every effort is useless.
The Iraqi people must struggle for their independence; yes, it suffered a war but it was released from Saddam's clench and they must now show the world that they can achieve justice and freedom without US help.
All the Arab nations from now on must show the whole world that the Arab civilisation can survive on its own and that Western imperialism only brings division and slavery. This can only come about under the umbrella of an Arab union of hope and understanding, similar to the European community. The Arab Community, as it may be called, will have a united parliament and economy, free of US and EU political hegemony.
To do this, is to discover again the richness of the Arab civilisation that has given so much to the Western world.
Injustice to women
Sir-- The amount of research put into Fatemah Farag's article 'The girl is Egyptian' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 May), as far as statistical figures and reports from global organisations, are credits worthy of highlighting. Personally, I was dismayed by the numbers that exhibit a great deal of injustice towards women in the world and particularly in our beloved country, Egypt.
I would have hoped, though, that your article be more condemning of such prejudice. I see numbers and reports gathered from different sources (which is good) but your message, in my opinion, should have been sharper and more critical of the inhumane and outdated traditions practiced in our society. Violence against women and FGM should be severely punishable by the law.
We need to expose our own taboos and speak-up with loud voices. We should not wait for another CNN report displaying to the world the images of a wife beaten by her spouse in front of her offsprings to start to react. And if the victimised wife reports the incident to the police seeking protection, she will probably be sent to her husband, and if she is fortunate, her husband will be summoned to the police station and verbally reprimanded with a yellowish smile by the police officer. That attitude must change.
You reported that brutality against women in the United Sates is a clear reflection of a culture of violence that targets women as vulnerable punching bags. I have to disagree with you on this statement. The US has strict laws that specifically target the elimination of domestic violence. The law is unforgiving towards male spouses who physically and emotionally abuse their wives and the numbers are declining, mainly because of the strict implementation of the law; both State and Federal.
I believe that these habits nourished by our culture should be battled on two fronts. First, the strict implementation of the law against batterers; and second, proactive education, which is already taking place, but should be backed by religious groups who should publicly condemn such acts of inhumanity that originated in the dark ages.
Sir-- Thank you very much for your service of this newspaper. I enjoy reading publications from different parts of the world, so I am not limited to just America's view on things.
And above all, thank you for providing this service free of charge.
Sir-- I would like to share my thoughts in reference to the article on EgyptAir 'A new take-off?' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 May - 4 June). The fundamental problem of EgyptAir as a service provider, is that it simply does not provide good service to the customer. Good service means that the paying customer comes first -- ie above the "special" service that I have observed EgyptAir cabin crew lavish on their family members, friends and colleagues who are most likely travelling free on board the flight.
Good service means that EgyptAir flights take-off and land on time, even though there might be low sales of tickets for that particular flight. Good service means proper maintenance of EgyptAir aircraft and onboard facilities.
Good service leads to a good reputation, which is extremely important in the service industry. A poor service provider might be able to take the money from an unsuspecting customer once, but a disgruntled customer never returns. This advice could be extended to the wider Egyptian socio- economy -- from the touts at the Pyramids, Khan Al-Khalili and other tourist sites to the Egyptian corporations that sold their ISO ratings to other companies manufacturing substandard products.
Egyptian goods and services currently do not enjoy a good reputation in the global marketplace. The solution is not to erect higher barriers to foreign competition, but to build a better goods and services sector in order to take the fight to your competitors.
Sir-- Yasser Sobhi's analysis of the appreciation of the euro in 'Rise of the euro' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 May - 4 June) is wrong.
If Egypt is a net exporter to Europe and if it depends on European tourism, then the appreciation of the Euro is a positive development. That is, more tourists will go to Egypt, and the exporters will benefit.
Paul de Rooy
Sir-- In reference to 'Dead end highway' (Al- Ahram Weekly, 14-20 November) about highway accidents, tragedies that are not necessary and could be significantly reduced. The aim of the media is to bring awareness to the general public as well as an entrusted authority to take action.
I believe this could happen by establishing a strong campaign calling for standardising the highways and the road network in Egypt to and above international standards. I ask you please to give deep thought about this issue.
We are not less than any other country and we could have the best if it is our target.