Letters to the Editor
Sir-- With regards to your coverage of the Darfur crisis, being Sudanese there are some points I would like to convey. The humanitarian tragedy in Darfur is as painful to witness as it is shameful. It is painful to see so many innocent civilians, including women and children, forced to abandon their homes and flee to refugee camps. It is painful to see the suffering, the malnutrition and the very wretchedness of their state. And it is shameful that such a situation has transpired. The eminent moral obligation is therefore to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of these people as soon as possible.
That having been said, the libelous, provocative and unfounded "allegations" of mass rapes, genocide and -- as reported by the BBC -- "mass graves" are baseless "until proven otherwise". In spite of this, the frequency with which such allegations are used and the facility with which such grave allegations can be used to taint a country of 30 million is hypocritical and counterproductive.
It is the US House of Representatives that passed a resolution describing the situation in Darfur as one of genocide. If certain reporters at your publication wish to also make that claim, they could also express the fact that this terminology has emanated from Washington and London, not from Nyala or Al-Fashir (cities in Darfur).
By using Darfur as a cause célèbre, it is almost as if certain North Americans want to exorcise the ghosts of their immigrant forefathers, who all but wiped out the Native American majority from their homeland.
Sir-- I appreciate the editorial by Hani Shukrallah 'Mirror mirror on the wall' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 August). As an African American woman, interested in world affairs and born with the name of the Nubian Queens who ruled Sudan, I'm extremely concerned with what is going on there now. Having also been an admirer of the courageous efforts and mind of Anwar El-Sadat, I turned greater attention to present day Egypt, and mourned when his close friend, also a journalist and editor, Youssef El-Sebaie was assassinated. If what I've read is correct, Sadat's mother was Sudanese, and the "browness" of his complexion leads me to think that she must have been of Nubian descent.
The situation in Sudan makes me wonder about the level of racism, not as it is theoretically prohibited in Islam but as it is actually practised in nations, where the religion is a dominant and basic foundation of the society and/or government. The statements reported in the press by women raped by the murderous government-backed militia, that they are raping the women to create "lighter" skinned children who will belong to the fathers because a Black woman is nothing, is so much like the philosophy of the slave master towards the women he raped in American history. His attempt, however, was not to "wipe out her Blackness", but the idea that he could do whatever he wanted because she was not a human being, but animal/chattel property he owned.
I hear echoes of this thinking from these light-skinned Arab militia. I also notice that in the photos I've seen, Al-Bashir has no dark-skinned men around him. I truly wonder how Muslims could justify preference for skin that is whiter, when an essential part of the religion is a jet black stone, the Kaaba in Mecca.
Sir-- 'Mirror mirror on the wall' by Hani Shukrallah ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 12-18 August) was, on the whole, so plainly the simple truth that I don't like to disagree with any part of it. However, I must answer one point, that Americans consider Palestinian blood cheap. We don't; we understand that every single Palestinian casualty was someone's family member, that every single one will be mourned, that every single one will be missed.
Nonetheless, in general, I always look forward to articles by Hani Shukrallah and his 'In memory of a most gentle leader' ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 12-18 August) made me wish I knew more about Hosny Guindy and his involvement with Al-Ahram Weekly.
As for the article 'Into the breach' by Abbas Kadhim ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 12-18 August), it made some points that really resonated. It seems likely that the US was, and is, interested in Iraq primarily as a means to eventually attack Iran. When analysed in this light, actions that seem puzzling become logical. Why has the US held back the full measure of its military strength against the insurgents in Falluja, Najaf and elsewhere? The US has gone to great lengths to avoid alienating the Iraqi population because it will need to be seen as, at least, the lesser of two evils in comparison with Iran. As traditional enemies, either turmoil or building strength among the Arabs of Iraq can hardly fail to draw in the Persians of Iran, as we see with Al- Sadr. The US therefore simply bides its time.
This makes a lot more sense to me than thinking we were interested in Iraqi oil. The truth is we can afford the oil and I don't think we need to buy it any more than OPEC needs to sell it.
Sir-- I'm truly glad that our government has finally realised that the Sudan is important to us more than any other country. We all know that Israel works hard to build a strong relation with the black continent as a whole because it wants to replace Egypt and contain it from the south. What occurs in south Sudan is certain evidence of that. I appeal to our government to change its perplexed policy in dealing with African countries.
I request our new foreign minister to re-use Amr Moussa's policies to restore Egypt's status in the world. The crisis in Darfur has proven that our policy is wrong in dedicating all our time to the so-called "peace process" in the Middle East. I'm sure that our country has well-informed cadres who can change these wrong policies in order to achieve for our country its deserved status and role in the world.
Alaa Gamal Abdel-Hakim
Weeding out the militants
Sir-- The Iraqi government, the US and their allies in Iraq should not negotiate with anyone who decided to raise the mantle of armed struggle against the innocent Iraqi population who decided, a long time ago, to live in a new, democratic and free Iraq. Forces of evil must be extinguished in all areas of the Middle East. The old orders of Middle Eastern totalitarianism in all their colours and shapes must be physically liquidated, and I mean totally killed and totally eliminated, both physically and metaphorically.
Sir-- I have known and worked with Mamdouh Hamza for many years; he is a man who Egypt should be proud of, a world renowned engineer, associated with the leading British University in civil engineering. He has a string of world-class projects, many with novel and innovative solutions and designs. I would compare Mamdouh -- although in a different field -- with the late Edward Said, with regards to his contributions to the Arab world in the West. Perhaps this lies at the bottom of these incredible charges?
London would be a crazy place for anyone to try to hire hit men in. They are probably outnumbered by various fractions of the British security services. The concept of Mamdouh Hamza being party to an assassination attempt is laughable to anyone who knows him. Once the "evidence" is presented to the courts, let us hope that common sense prevails and that a sound judge is present to dismiss these charges.
In the meantime, the support of his friends and colleagues is with him and his wife Omayma Hatem.
Sir-- I was quite positively impressed and grateful that the interview with the conductor Ahmed El-Saedi 'Down from the podium' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 29 July-4 August) appeared in your newspaper. I have known Maestro El-Saedi for nearly 30 years and am familiar with his work and character. I feel qualified to testify to his high and uncompromising moral and artistic integrity. He is a great asset to the people and cultural life of Egypt and in this sense, his ideas and opinions in musical matters must be heeded seriously.
Don Louis Wetzel
Los Angeles, CA
The way ahead
Sir-- Well done on 'No cream and no crop' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 June). We must reflect honestly and frankly if we are ever to be able to sit at the international table of sports, politics, culture or science. Change is not so hard once we embrace the truth.
Sir-- When I was young, I used to see vehicles roaming the streets and disseminating white fumes to eliminate mosquitoes. Now when I go anywhere downtown, I always see vehicles moving freely through the streets of Cairo disseminating black clouds of fume, not to eliminate mosquitoes, but human beings. It is a great misfortune when a traffic light turns red and a motorcycle is in front of me emitting fumes full of lead and other deadly elements.
I think that Cairo traffic authority must face this problem strictly, as it did with the safety belt issue, otherwise people will have to go out with gas masks on their faces.
Deeds not words
Sir-- In the letter 'Begin with education' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 July), I called on the former government to put a premium on the issue of education. Once again, I call afresh on the new government of Dr [Ahmed] Nazif to do something serious concerning this issue. Our education is in dire need of real revival, if not complete change. The first step towards this must be taken on the part of the government, afterwards comes the turn of the NGOs and individuals who have something to do with this issue.
I wish the two ministers of education and higher education would appear on TV and in newspapers publicly debating all those experts on this issue, notably our great professors and teachers, to discuss this subject. Perhaps a conference on reforming education in Egypt should be held, giving a chance to all those experienced in this field to speak up and offer solutions to our dilemma. This is the first serious step that can be taken at the moment if we honestly seek real reform.
As far as computers and the Internet are concerned, professionals in these fields must be invited to this conference too in order to offer their advice. Egypt is fortunate to be home to many great professionals in all these fields, but we can also give non-Egyptian professionals a voice. I think that then, and only then, will the people of Egypt will approve of and express satisfaction with the government.
If the new government is truly different from all its predecessors, then let us as ordinary citizens feel this change. We want deeds, not words.
Sir-- A few months ago, my father bought a piece of land in a new urban community, but as soon as he finished the payment instalments he was shocked by the hikes in the price of iron and the market monopoly of this product. I do not know how we, as normal citizens, could confront this monopoly. If the government is really serious in encouraging investment and construction in these new communities, it has a tall task ahead of it.
On another matter, I used to ride CTA bus during my commute between Nasr City and Ramses Square especially during the summer, but in recent days I found some faults with this service. First, the air conditioning on the Ramses Square- bound route is broken. Second, there are not enough of these buses which forces passengers to wait for a long time and be overcrowded inside the buses. Third, the cleanliness of these buses has dropped, and even the seats are cut and dusty.