Sir-- Please consider publishing this open letter to Dr Naguib El-Hilali Gohar, the president of Cairo University, in your Readers' Corner section. The letter has been co-signed by a number of Cairo University professors and members of staff.
Dear Dr Naguib El-Hilali Gohar
1) One of the long-standing university customs is to discuss university matters within the university and not in public. When discussion is not permitted, the custom is interrupted. You have received a letter from 75 Cairo University staff members inquiring about the designation of a campus building for the Future Society, asking for clarifications about the move, and voicing their concern. So far, you have not dignified us with an answer.
2) Considering that many of the university's own scientific societies have no offices on campus, it was extraordinary to see a university building so designated. Considering that the president of the said NGO is Gamal Mubarak, head of the NDP Policies Committee and son of the president, the move was questionable, for it suggests a desire to curry favour with the NGO's president and Egypt's political authority.
3) Political parties and NGOs are banned from working on campus. Even if the ban is removed, there is no reason the university should favour this particular NGO, rather than treat all NGOs equally, including those working for human rights, the environment, and other causes.
4) The University Board was not asked to approve the move. Indeed, it was notified about it only after the president of the university received a letter from staff members concerned about the building in question.
5) For reasons of transparency, the clauses of the agreement between the president of the university and the Future Society need to be disclosed. Would the move involve financial cost to the university?
6) It has been said that the building would serve as a computer training facility. This is a dubious claim, for many departments in the university can easily provide this service if appropriately equipped.
We hope that in the future the president of our university would take time to answer staff queries, so as to keep university matters within campus. The university president should remember that he is first and foremost a professor and will continue to be so, even when he is no longer president. The university presidency is just an administrative post, and the president has no right to treat his colleagues with arrogance.
Dr Mohamed Abul-Ghar
Bin Laden's plan
Sir-- 'Al-Qa'eda, who benefits?' by Salama A Salama (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November) is a great article and is the first I've seen that has a logical summation of the current situation in Saudi Arabia. The only thing I differ with him on is that he thinks the start of cooperation began between the Saudi security apparatus and American intelligence resulted in the large scale attacks by Al-Qa'eda members against the Saudi Kingdom.
I believe this was always the plan of Bin Laden and Al-Qa'eda. I believe, as does Mr Salama, that they want to bring down the Saudi Kingdom and that these attacks are just the beginning. I am very happy that the United States military have mostly left the Saudi Kingdom; it was long overdue. Perhaps these indiscriminate attacks on their fellow Muslims will open the eyes of the Arab world to what Bin Laden and Al-Qa'eda are really about.
As for Curtis Doebbler's article 'No justice, no peace' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November), the lawyer is wrong when he implied that the Taliban are citizens of Afghanistan and are the legal government. Taliban were mostly made up of people who are not native to Afghanistan, they are from Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt and other countries. They invaded Afghanistan at a point when the country was weak from the war and had no central government in place. Remember that Afghanistan throughout its long independent history has, for the most part, been a tribal society.
As far as legal recourse after 11 September, America had every right to defend itself and go after the Taliban. Lawyers are good at bringing up legal nonsense, but we all know they add no value to society as a whole. Replace lawyers with average people with common sense and the world would be better off.
Sir-- The explosions at the British Consulate and HSBC bank in Istanbul are organised by Israel and the American CIA to move Turkish public opinion to send troops to Iraq.
Look at who benefits in order to find out who the guilty side is.
A Mark Celphoni
New York, NY
Sir-- Regarding 'Terror strikes Turkey' by Gareth Jenkins (Al-Ahram Weekly, 20-26 November), no doubt someone like Sharon and his party would sacrifice a few lives of his people for higher political gain and sympathy for Zionists.
No where else
Sir-- Thank you for printing the article 'An extraordinary violation' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November) on Maher Arar.
I follow the news carefully and have been concerned with my government's activities and attitudes since starting its "war on terror", but I had not seen any coverage or even mention of this case until I read in Al-Ahram Weekly.
It is important for Americans to know what our government does in our name. I hope that the Canadian government will continue to pursue this and demand some level of accountability.
Who's at fault
Sir-- In 'An extraordinary violation' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November), why aren't you mad at Syria? The Syrians are the torturers in this story.
St Paul, MN
Sir-- With great pleasure I read the article written by Ghada Karmi "A very Arab obsession" (Al-Ahram Weekly, 20 - 26 November). I recommend translating this very important article into Arabic and making it available for the many readers who do not read English.
It is disturbing to find out that many well situated Arabs, but insufficiently informed, believe a lot in conspiracy theories instead of analysing the miserable reality of the Arab world rationally.
Please send my best regards to Ms Ghada Karmi.
Former president of the German-Palestinian Society
I wish to commend Gideon Levy's courage in exposing IDF behavior at Palestinian checkpoints through his review of Liran Furer's biographical, "I Punched an Arab in the Face," published by Gevanim (Haaretz -- Sunday, November 23, 2003). Mr Furer's book also may be an important first step in reclaiming the integrity and dignity of his own life.
The world sees the irony of Israeli demands for meaningful steps to crack down on Palestinian terrorist organisations. The increasing level of atrocities perpetrated by Israel as collective punishment towards the entire Palestinian population has been on-going for over 36 years, with a resulting escalation in anti- Semitism.
Currently there are 482 checkpoints that create 482 special opportunities for IDF barbarity. And the Apartheid Wall, electric razor wire fence, daily military incursions with resulting civilian deaths, demolition of homes, irrigation systems, reservoirs, the uprooting of ancient orchards, enforced hunger and dehydration as recently revealed in a UN Report, and a host of other crimes against humanity do not put Israeli Zionism in a good light in the eyes of the world. As the Palestinian peace activist, Dr Mustafa Barghouthi would say, "The Palestinians are the victims of the victims."
Mr Furer may also have revealed more than he intended when he describes his disgust at the sight of dark skinned people. Semites are dark skinned. Perhaps the ironic twist is that the predominantly non-Semite, Ashkenazi Jews are the real anti-Semites. I also took umbrage at Furer's belief that the Palestinians have no respect for life. It is the brutish Israeli policies towards the Palestinians that reveal a total contempt for a people who just happen to own what certain Zionists covet.
Israel should replace the occupation with a UN Peacekeeping Force, bring home the illegal settlers, tear down the Apartheid Wall, and negotiate in good faith for peace. The result may be a renewed respect for Israel in the world community and a marked decrease in so-called anti- Semitism.
Genevieve Cora Fraser
Sir-- It is true that Muslims do not have a confederation or any other form of national unity in the US. It is the same situation as with other religious and ethnic minorities like Hindus, Spanish- or African-Americans. However, 'Divided they fall' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November) failed to give a single example of racism in the community.
I am a Pakistani-American who lives in the Chicago area in the 80 per cent African- American neighbourhood and have prayed in mosques all over Chicago. Most mosques have mixed congregations of South Asians, Arabs and African Americans, despite the fact that Chicago is one of the most racially divided cities in the US. African-Americans live in the South side and the rest everywhere else; it is not a feature of Muslim community but of the city.
This nevertheless poses difficulties in the communication between mosques which are located in the South and North sides. I am not denying the presence of stereotyping among some individuals of the Muslim communities -- which may amount to racism. But to say there is racism among Muslims of different origins is an absolute exaggeration.
The Radio Islam event mentioned in the article was organised by me, a Pakistani-American and my friend Professor Aminah McCloud, interviewed by the author of this article, an African- American, was a speaker at the event. The event was well-attended by Arabs; the host was an Arab woman; the majority of funds were submitted by Arabs in the programme; about 10 per cent of attendance, along with the main organiser of the event, was of African heritage. The fund- raiser raised a bit more than the target amount of $100,000, which is double the figure of the normal fund-raisers in Chicago this year.
People who spoke included two Arabs, one African, one African-American, one South Asian, one Canadian and one Pakistani. The event was a demonstration of Muslim unity, not of the absence of it. The past three producers of Radio Islam have also been one Pakistani-Canadian, one African-American, and one Arab-American.
There is certainly an urgent need to formalise unity at the national level, which already exists among Muslims of all backgrounds in the US. But the absence of it is not because of racism but because of inept leadership.
Making a point
Sir-- The last time I checked, the Arab League was still breathing, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which recently held its conference in Malaysia, is still standing. Have the news of their demise preceded their perceived irrelevance? Let's hope not. I agree the Arab League needs tweaking, however, its role should not be ignored. The polarised tensions that exist between and within the Arab nations is symptomatic of a region in political turmoil. However, we need not despair and freeze into inaction, knowing full well, the situation will deteriorate further and give more fodder to foes and misguided expansionists.
The common good of the Arabs has to be defined in regional terms. Once that good has been defined, Arab countries should move swiftly to coalesce around that good and rally their people for support. That support can materialise only when our leaderships enjoin the masses in the domestic political process, and the wider regional issues. The "Arab street", as is frequently alluded to, has that ethereal potential to become a major player in the region.
May I suggest we combine efforts from the Islamic and Arab communities in the US, in tandem with those from our respective regions, to bring new dimensions and alternatives to the current American political process. These efforts require the exchange of ideas, people and actions that best reflect our aims and legitimate concerns. Dialogue ought to be encouraged within the Arab and Muslim diasporas inside and outside the US. We have to become visible and fully engaged in the political discourse. As long as we are full partners in our government's policies, we should be able to exert pressure and insert our views in the political mix.
Once we Muslim and Arab-Americans have arrived at a consensus and stated our vision and goals in clear terms, we can eventually effect change that is in concordance with our values and those stated in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. The majority of the American public, if properly informed, will come to understand our concerns and help us redirect government actions. What is needed at minimum from our brothers and sisters abroad, is help in shoring up our mutual interests through exchanges and cooperation in all matters of social, political and economic import. This is a two-pronged approach that has, in my opinion, a better chance at successfully engaging and influencing American foreign policy attitudes, reduce unnecessary global tensions and, ultimately, resolve impending regional conflicts.
The American people are a kind and generous bunch, and if given all the facts will respond fairly and justly to legitimate international concerns.
Los Angeles, CA
Sir-- In 'Lessons in moral dignity' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November), Azmi Bishara says that Israel has so much power in the United States because of a "lack of sufficient credible Arab and Palestinian democratic forces".
Although there is a lack of democracies in the Middle East, I would contend that the governments in place are just as legitimate. What the US fails to realise is that other forms of government work too. And although these governments are different, they are still quite credible.
William Jon Hummel
It's oil, stupid
Sir-- This is in response to Mohamed Hakki's article 'It's Palestine, stupid' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 23-29 October).
In 1992, Bill Clinton said "It is the economy stupid, and do not forget healthcare." To our Arab friends, we say "It is the oil stupid, and do not forget the water." Yes, Israel wants the two rivers in Iraq for its own war machine and nuclear projects.
Next step, it will be diverting water from Turkey and Iraq to Israel while the Iraqis will expect to get water in their homes one day a week. It is already happening in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon where residents get water once or twice a week after Israel diverted the water from rivers and lakes in those Arab countries.
Sir-- I admire the in-depth and visionary analysis in 'While we were sleeping' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November) by Dr Abdel-Malek, and hope our intellectuals and policy makers would carefully study and plan better to benefit from this emerging world economic and political force. We are also at the doorsteps of Europe and its struggle to achieve an equal partnership status with the US, both politically and economically.
We could become Europe's South Korea agriculturally and industrially, especially with our devalued pound by which we can benefit from Europe's rich markets. To do this, we need to release our people's creative and inventive powers, as well as rebuilding our outdated bureaucracy and antiquated government institutions.
Sir-- 'While we were sleeping' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November) by Anwar Abdel- Malek is an excellent article which is very informative -- especially the statistics.
Sir-- I was glad to read a straightforward account of the Jessica Lynch story in 'Lynch mob' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 20-26 November).
I have read many reports and broadcasts which praised Jessica Lynch for telling the truth. Yet she didn't tell the truth, she merely mumbled confirmation of it, long after the lies had been discredited.
Had she any choice? The unfounded charges of anal rape, which she was willing to use to sell her book, show Lynch to be an unprincipled and mercenary young woman, despite all her pretences to innocence.
Moreover, I heard no thanks for the Iraqi doctors who saved her life and tried to return her to the US army. They are the "heroes" of this story, however, American racism prevents any acknowledgement of their skill, compassion and courage. I was pleased to hear that the American public are no longer interested in Private Lynch's rather smelly story, because few have bought her book. Let's hope she just fades away.
Sir-- Regarding Mr Hemeid's 'More spin, what else?' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November).
As a nation, Iraq seems always to have been an artificial entity held together by bondage more than mutual admiration or interest. As the region remains plunged in this unfortunate war, Arab and Persian interests rightly voice concern and even fair warning that the initial victors -- an alien people from distant lands and divergent cultures -- should not arbitrarily take further advantage. But even this may also seem to Iraqis as hegemony.
Whether Iraq becomes one or two or three independent, sovereign states, one hopes that with God's help Iraqis decide for themselves.
Days of infamy
Sir-- As Arthur Schlesinger, the former adviser to President Kennedy, observed, George W Bush's "policy of 'anticipatory self-defence' [against Iraq] is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbour, on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy... today, it is we Americans who live in infamy."
Schlesinger added that even in friendly countries, the public regards Bush "as a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein". Some international law specialists compare the invasion of Iraq to the "crimes against the peace" for which Nazi leaders were indicted at Nuremberg.
Sir-- Currently, I study Middle Eastern history in a California college, and in the process discovered your newspaper. The story 'Suicide shock for Saudi' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November) was very enlightening, as it illustrated the Saudi viewpoint to the Riyadh bombings.
Recently an instructor and I tried to get a discussion going on terrorism. The other students could not think of anything other than the events of 11 September 2001, and what the terrorists had done to us.
If we could just realise that Al-Qa'eda is a menace worldwide, as was also shown in Turkey -- not just in the United States -- then perhaps we might take the issues that spawned it more seriously.
Gary D Brune
Sir-- In the article 'Mauritania's hour postponed' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 November), the writer used the term "Black African". Why exactly is that?
It's clear that Mauritania is in Africa and that its population is African. The writer only needed to use the word Black. The rift in the population is between the Arab and the Black, not between the Arab and the "Black African". I don't see the writer using the term "Arab African".
The writer also stated that "voters in Africa are sick and tired of the new democratic political system." How would he know? Is Gamal Nkrumah seriously saying that the voter experience across 50 plus nations can be summed up in one sentence? Surely, voters in Africa do not have enough, if any, experience of democracy to know whether they are sick or tired of it?
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