Letters to the editor
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Cartoon by Ossama Qassim
Sir-- I am writing to express my outrage and shame at the pictures of Muslims being subjected to abuse by my fellow British countrymen. Coming hard on the heels of those of similar events pictured involving American troops a day earlier, I can only send my personal apology on behalf of myself and all those of my countrymen who share my disgust, to those concerned, their families and their loved ones.
I am not a Muslim, indeed I have no religious faith whatsoever. I cannot stand by however, and not comment on the hypocrisy of actions which are sold to the world as "liberation", when the truth is that the situation in Iraq (and I had no time for tyrants like Saddam) is probably far worse than before the coalition invaded.
No one deserves the kind of treatment to which these people have been subjected, these are not the actions of good or righteous men. I thus join with those of your faith in condemning without reservation these atrocities.
I hope for a day when Iraq will be truly free from dictators, intolerance, and armies of occupation. Until that day, I shall hold the Iraqi people, and all other oppressed people whether Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, or those of no faith, in my heart.
Failure on the pitch
Sir-- This note to the people of Egypt is from a middle class American man. I wish to express my revulsion of the horrific events coming to light in the prisons of Iraq.
We like to tell everyone that Americans are champions of civil and human rights. We talk a good game, but fail on the pitch. I believe the reports from Baghdad and they sicken most Americans. These events give us another black eye in the Arab world.
We have not been a fair mediator in the Palestinian problem either. Please know that most Americans have a great deal of respect for the people of the Middle East. I wish that our government would represent American values in the consistent way.
We are ashamed of the actions taken in our name.
Detroit to Abu Ghrayb
Sir-- I am a Desert Shield/Desert Storm veteran and a Political Scientist. I have seen the photos of the abuse of the Iraqi POW's and must say -- I am not surprised. A point not made by the US media is who the abusers are.
When I first heard the allegations, I thought it was a story on the New York City police department or the Detroit police department. How many of these military police officers are civilian police officers? Just as the people are racist here in the US, they are racist while in the Middle East.
How much of US foreign policy in the Middle East is warped by racism?
Based on the photos of the Iraqi prisoners, I would say a great deal of it is.
Sir-- The pictures of the degrading and brutal mistreatments of Iraqi detainees by American and British soldiers have provoked anger, shock and unbelief throughout the world. The hypocritical statements of the occupiers saying that their goals were security, peace and justice were unmasked as cynicism.
After the claim that Iraq would possess weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a lie, even for those who -- after the undignified attempt to deceive the UN Security Council by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in February 2003 -- still believed in it, the USA tried ex post to legitimate the invasion of Iraq in a different way. Suddenly the reason for the invasion was claimed to be the "mission" to free an oppressed people from a brutal dictator. Even the most enthusiastic supporters of the Bush administration should now recognise this statement as entirely shameless and untrue.
The series of violations against international law by the US army started with the beginning of the invasion, which was itself illegal and carried out without a resolution of the UN Security Council, and was continued in numerous violations of the 4th Geneva Convention and in the most recent atrocities. The boastful display of the bodies of the killed sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay on TV and the degrading pictures of medical examinations of Saddam Hussein himself are only two of the most obvious examples. The siege and bombing of the city of Falluja, where the total indifference of the US army towards Iraqi civilian casualties became quite clear, was a further example of the discrepancy between propagandistic statements of American morality and Iraqi reality.
I, as a European and a Humanist, am ashamed and deeply troubled by the reports and pictures from Iraq, but the ones who really suffer are the Iraqis who are defencelessly exposed to a murderous and reckless occupying force, that doesn't show the least respect for international law and human rights.
Iraq is in a state of anarchy and the Iraqis, the true victims, are physically and morally degraded, and on top of it all, condemned as a people of terrorists by a great section of the Western media.
Today the world is witness to a humanitarian catastrophe and a human tragedy in Iraq.
Sir-- When brutal, savage acts are carried out against Iraqi men by the American and British forces that are supposedly 'liberating' them; when no Arab leadership will step up and take a stand; When Arabs throughout the Middle East have become so accustomed to being resigned to their sorry fate, that even this humiliation and outrage is not enough to take us to the streets decrying the atrocities and demanding true 'liberation' -- when all this takes place, can you tell me what it means for you to be an Arab?
Tell me: Is every Arab angry? Is every Arab ashamed? Why won't anyone say, 'Let us take care of our people. Let us ensure their safety and well-being.' How long will we believe that the American puppet-master cares? How long will we refuse to see what puppets we have become, when we dare not leave our safe cocoons and fight for our own people?
We have sat back and watched the situation in Palestine unfold into the disaster that it is today and will continue to be for a long time to come. How many more Palestines will we allow to happen? How much more divided will we become before we even protest? When will we stand united; look to our rich intellectual and creative past as a united entity, and then look at our pitiful present filled with divisions, boundaries and prejudices!
We lose daily and I continually lose faith in not only you but also in myself. I feel a personal guilt towards every Arab victim that could have been saved and I only wish every other Arab felt the same and could be moved to make any, just any gesture.
Remember your brothers, remember to care, and remember our individual and united strength. Use your voices and remind me, because I am forgetting, why I should be proud to be an Arab.
Azza Mubarak Matar
Not all Americans
Sir-- As a American I am very unhappy about the treatment of the Iraqi prisoners. I feel that the people responsible for their mistreatment should be punished. Please do not consider that all Americans condone those actions.
Also, please understand we do not like to be shown burned, mutilated bodies hung upside down from a bridge in Iraq.
It makes us feel resentment toward Arabs. I also know that All Arabs did not burn or mutilate those Americans and that all Arabs did not hang them upside down from the bridge.
Lets face it, we are not perfect people, Arabs and Americans. So lets just do the best we can to live in peace with one another.
Shame and anger
Sir-- As an American, I, along with every person I have spoken to, is deeply ashamed and angered with the actions of a few of our military police in Iraq. I would not want to be in their shoes. Watch and you'll see that they will not get off with a "slap on the hand".
I'm betting that those involved in the actual abuse will see prison time -- as they should. Don't think that we here in the USA approve of their actions; they are despicable people who have disgraced the US military and the people of the USA. I, along with others, want to see them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Here in America, we do not look highly on people who act like this. They are no different than Saddam and his band of rapists, torturers and murderers. Arabs might think that we like this kind of cruel actions, but I'm here to tell you that we do not. Our military and our country want to see a free Iraq, ruled by Iraqis and could care less about the oil or anything else other than their freedom.
Sir-- I recently read an article on msnbc.com which included a quote from you, "'If the US will not awaken soon from its coma, it will become enemy number one to the whole Arab and Islamic World.'"
It really hit home for the first time, how our administration has destroyed our international relations. As an average guy from Texas, I would like to encourage the Arab world to be patient with us... we will awaken from our coma in November!
I realise I am not a politician or a diplomat, but I do understand and represent the idealisms of the majority of Americans. Our current administration has deceived us and has ignored the hard work and honest intentions Americans have represented for years.
I do love my country, as most citizens do. I can only encourage Arabs and the Islamic people have faith in us, we will stand for what is right ... although it make take as long as November!
Beating the bullies
Sir-- Azmi Bishara's 'The dynamic of occupation' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 April) is a brilliant piece of journalism. He has perfectly stated the current US administration's flawed approach to Middle East diplomacy. His article ends with reference to the basis for negotiations in Palestine (the roadmap) ending with Israel on a rampage of killing and bullying in a bid to impose Israeli-US dictates without negotiations. He suggests that the Arab regimes are left with no face-saving options, and further states that "Arab nations can no longer see US policy in Iraq and Palestine except as an all out war against them."
I wish to ask Mr Bishara, since Palestine "happened" long before Iraq why those Arab nations waited so long to take meaningful, non-violent, effective action on behalf of their Palestinian brothers? I know what I would have done if I were an Arab sheikh and some neighbourhood bully had kept on picking on my brother. I would go right out and turn off the oil spigot. But they never do that, and I've always wondered why not, Mr Bishara.
Sir-- Your article 'The dynamic of occupation' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 April) made an interesting argument. I was a student of journalism and learnt that Imperialists use propaganda, invariably to foster their often evil and selfish interests. The Western media is only practicalising this evil part of journalism with what they feed the whole world.
The wicked scenario being played out by the almighty US army on civilians in Iraq would one day be tried in courts of justice for its war crime perspective. How do you term blind and premeditated bombardment of civilians and mosques in the name of "battling insurgency"?
The stench from the mess that the US made of the unwarranted invasion of Iraq would choke George Bush out of the White House, mark my words.
Rooted in the land
Sir-- Regarding 'Sharon's land grab' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 April - 5 May), what you propose sounds logical and states the obvious.
From my vantage of isolation from in-depth, unbiased reporting on Middle Eastern political events, it has always seemed to be in everyone's best interest to make the West Bank issue a United Nations show-piece. I agree with you that this is all about land, not religion.
To us Americans who live in a huge country with fluid settlement patterns, the strong, unbreakable ties to land is difficult to comprehend. Until the UN, led by a strong commitment of the US, steps in, we are doomed to an endless cycle of violence.
Flames of protest
Sir-- Regarding your suggestion in 'Sharon's land grab' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 April - 5 May) that the Palestinians use civil disobedience in order to secure their land from Israel, I would offer one other suggestion. Rather than have Palestinian martyrs blowing up Israeli buses in suicide attacks and killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children, these same suicide bombers should rely on a much simpler and (in my mind) far more effective tactic that would result in no civilian casualties, while garnering far greater world support for their cause.
The tactic would be for these suicide martyrs to drop their explosive vests and instead simply sit in the middle of the street, in some conspicuous place, pour a flammable liquid over themselves, and set themselves on fire.
The most potent images from Vietnam were of the Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire in protest of the war. Such sacrifice on the part of Palestinian suicide bombers would be instantly understood world-wide. Such sacrifice is honourable and makes the strongest political statement possible: We are willing to die for our beliefs, but we do not wish to take innocent life.
C S Pollard
Sir-- I agree 100 per cent with 'Sharon's land grab' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 April - 5 May). I feel that the occupation by Israel for over 35 years and the horrific treatment of the nation of Palestine is a crime against humanity.
I agree that civil disobedience would serve Palestine positively, and that by going to the UN to be heard as often as possible is the only way, the only hope. Because of this present administration, I myself want to leave this country. I am so ashamed, appalled and frightened by what has happened to the Iraqi people, that I have no words to express myself. I just wrote a long article to the New York Times ; I am so outraged.
There is so little I can do but express to you my feelings that these ongoing crimes against innocent civilians must be stopped; this on going murder, children given no hope, being backed into a corner by Israel, is something that Israel must look at and Sharon must have someone stand up against his brutality. He is treating the Palestinians as the Germans treated the Jews. He has put the Palestinians in a Ghetto; there has been no empathy, compassion or understanding.
The suicide bombings must end because they only help Sharon; Ghandi knew how to be heard.
Remember Deir Yassin
Sir-- A few weeks ago (around Good Friday) was the 56th anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre in Palestine by the Zionist. It happened at the same time that the Israeli-American-British were planning the massacres of Fulluja.
Al-Ahram Weekly missed the anniversary to remind their readers about the Holocaust genocide against the Palestinians. We hope that you will cover the issues on your Web site.
Sir-- After reading 'Open letter to President Bush' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 April), I believe the administration in the White House is deaf, mute and blind to what is happening in our region except to consolidate with and praise the Zionists.
Therefore, there is no point in open or closed messages to this extreme Right administration. We must redirect our message to our leaders to accelerate the process of political reform, increase transparency and freedom for all political powers to participate in the process of democratic change. This is in order to prevent the US administration from interfering in our affairs under the pretext of so-called democratisation.
Strengthening and uniting all political factions is a must to face US hegemony and Imperialistic plans in our region. My message to the US administration is that we, the Arabs, will never surrender under your dictates and we, the people, will support resistance everywhere to take back all the occupied lands.
Sir-- There are two very important facts that Mr Harb forgot to mention in 'Open letter to President Bush' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 April). Politics in the United States has evolved, and regardless of whose party the candidate belongs to the following remain as the key factors in a politician's life. First, the single most important factor for an American politician is to start working on his or her re-election campaign. That campaign usually starts right after celebrating the election victory. Thus, the election campaign usually lasts about four years.
Second, no American politician can ever hope to get elected if the America Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) does not approve of him or her; and the only way to get their approval is to vote for anything Israel wants. Thus, forget Democrats and Republicans and/or Independents -- if AIPAC does not approve they will never be elected. In a comment on the CBS programme 60 Minutes a few years ago, someone in Congress made some unhelpful comments about the Jewish lobby. The commentators remarks were "is he trying to commit political suicide?"
These are the most important facts in American politics today, and unless the Arab/Muslim world can do something to alter that, they will always have American politicians blindly supporting whatever Israel wants with no questions asked, regardless of which party is in power.
Not so conspiratorial
Sir-- Khaled Amayreh's 'In the kill zone' ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 29 April - 5 May) includes two highly misleading statements about Jews and Israel.
The first is his repetition of the commonly held myth that Jews control American media, evidenced by what he perceives as a lack of criticism of George Bush's endorsement of Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan.
In fact, many newspapers here did criticise it, led by the New York Times and the Washington Post. The second, is his claim that some members of Israel's Likud Party would like to take over parts of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Though scholars believe that parts of these countries were part of the biblical Israelite kingdom, there is no evidence whatsoever that Israelis wish to take them over as part of a greater Israeli state.
New York, NY
Time will heal
Sir-- Being an American, I was troubled by President Mubarak's statement that Arabs hate Americans. With so many people filled with hate our future looks bleak indeed.
We, as Americans, preach about our education though it's a canned education at best, limited to what the government prescribes and mandates. The world is changing and information is becoming accessible over the Internet, bringing us closer as neighbours and understanding truth. I see time moulding us closer as once an enemy then a friend.
Your country is rich in history and religion, as is Iraq. Give us time and we will understand and then rid the US, and elsewhere, of the extremists. I commend President Mubarak for his role in world peace and leadership.