Letters to the Editor
Humanity before dignity
Sir-- On your Opinion page, Salama A Salama in 'Evil empire' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 16-22 September) wants to know, "How can one condemn one type of horror when the world is oblivious to the atrocities that triggered it?"
That's easy. Develop a backbone. A better question is, how can Arab intellectuals persist in diluting every weak attempt at self-criticism with a plea of "they made us do it," even when the world is disintegrating around you? Take some responsibility. Own up to the plague of venom and hatred that your culture has unleashed upon the world. No one made you do it. Change.
On the same page, a lone ray of wisdom breaks through Anouar Abdel-Malek's pipe dream of finding solace in the arms of China. "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy."
Indeed. And haven't Arabs yet realised that your enemies' strategy consists of the oft-vindicated assumption that whenever Arabs are provoked they will respond with unconscionable barbarity, and the world will rally against the barbarians?
The horror is that the only way for you to short-circuit this system is to blame yourselves, to change, thus to prove your humanity and deprive your enemies of their pretext. And yet you persist in blaming the other, always valuing your dignity above your humanity.
Descent into ruthlessness
Sir-- Regarding 'Fatwa fight' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 16-22 September), Gihan Shahine quotes El-Qaradawi: "Islam only allows killing those engaged in combat, and definitely not civilians," but continues that for El-Qaradawi, whether there are actually "any innocent US civilians in Iraq" remains an open question.
Of course, by the same logic, perhaps El-Qaradawi is not an innocent either and could be considered a legitimate military target. This further descent into complete ruthlessness is both sad and regrettable.
Nothing but the truth
Sir-- Regarding 'The road to madness' by Ibrahim Nafie ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 16-22 September), this is the truth and nothing but the truth. We, who think in the West -- as it is called -- know this only too well.
I would like to know if this book is going to come out in English, as I would like my grandchildren to read it. If not, please give us more of it in your very interesting and enlightening paper. I look forward to it every week.
Sir-- I'd like to comment on the article 'Reign of evil' ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 9-15 September). The author makes some great points, as when he mentions that Arabs should not sympathise with the kidnapped French journalists because France is a friend to Arabs, but should sympathise with them because they are human beings, plain and simple, and are defenseless. Great point.
I do have a problem, though, with another statement. The article states: "The image of the corpses of the Nepalese workers tossed carelessly face down into a pit has cast everything into a profound nihilistic gloom. It is amazing the extent to which America's war of civilisations has won, and what a horrifying victory it has been."
The author clearly wants to attribute as much violence as possible to the United States and paint a picture of the US hell-bent on war. But why is it America's war of civilisations? Has the author forgotten about Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden? They attacked the African embassies in 1998.
They attacked New York City in 2001. They have attacked Turkey, Indonesia, Spain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia. Should not this war be called: "Al-Qaeda's war of civilisations?" They flew planes into buildings and started the entire world down this path. Why does the author seem to forget this?
Why do most writers at your publication seem to forget this? Al-Qaeda and its followers around the world have been active for many years, long before the attacks on New York. They have wanted this clash. They have wanted this war. Where is the outrage at Al-Qaeda? When are the writers at your site going to seriously confront and denounce Al-Qaeda and their supporters on a regular basis, instead of blaming every act of violence (such as the Nepalese deaths) on the US?
Where is the outrage at terrorists in Iraq who are preventing Iraq from moving forward into a peaceful democracy where human rights and religious freedom are respected?
Sir-- With regards to 'Make it Count' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 26 August - 1 September), no matter what will be said, something has fundamentally changed between the West and the Muslims and Arabs in particular. After 9/11, the Muslims and Arabs have become the new enemy du jour to those who dream of empire and conquest.
As an Arab American, I find myself cornered with nowhere to turn. The Democrats and the Republicans are upping one another in devising ways to better control my people and their resources. They dehumanise us in the eyes of our society through concerted efforts of misinformation and deliberate distortions. They condone torture against my people and humiliate us with impunity, in total disregard and disdain for international laws. My people's houses are demolished, my children are shot and terrorised. My houses of worship become fair game, even my faith is insidiously attacked.
Bush and Kerry, to me and my community, are a frightening choice of leaders. They both support what hurts and diminishes the rights of my community at large and those who believe in cooperation and peace.
Only Nader speaks to my community and those who support sustainable economic, social and political policies. Even though his chances are slim to none to get elected, Nader still remains the logical choice for me and my community, including progressives.
The Arab American is better off voting for Nader, when all is said and done. In doing so, the coalition against the Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, comprising diverse left out minority groups, will grow to become a third viable political force and, thus giving a third choice a much wider public appeal and support in local elections and the 2008 presidentials.
Voting for Kerry, it seems to me, would prolong our [the Arab, the Muslim American, and all other groups vying for rightful representation] misery. I believe a strong dose of fascism, most likely to occur under Bush in the next four years, will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. This will turn the tide of the populace against Bush and his cohorts, and bring America back to the fold of the international community.
Los Angeles, CA
Is Iran next?
Sir-- I purchase your fine publication here in suburban Philadelphia once a week. Yale University School of Medicine Professor Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh's fine article on the Straussian Zionist neo-cons who have facilitated the American invasion of Iraq 'Their Dog-Eat-Dog-World' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 2-8 September) dovetails nicely with the op-ed piece in the same issue entitled 'Is Iran Next?' by Ahmed Abdel-Ghani.
It is clear that more preemptive war, counterstrike, and the avoidance of comprehensive political solutions in the Middle East await the world in the wake of either a Bush or Kerry victory in November.
Those of us on the Real American Right are doing what we can to oppose this madness and oppose the apocalyptic direction being taken by both major political parties in the United States. This is evidenced by Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative, Frank Whalen's Republic Broadcasting Network, SARTRE's Breaking All the Rules website, and the third party presidential candidacy of Constitution Party nominee Michael Peroutka. Not all of us are owned by AIPAC, Ariel Sharon and the War Party wing of the Christian Right.
Arrogance and insensibility
Where, in which book, is it stated that the USA is the keeper of the world? That country can't even take care of its own people for whatever reasons.
To me, a leader leads by example and not by the rut. Their unmitigated arrogance and insensibility -- and now terrorising the world at will -- will never make the USA acceptable to any nation on this earth. Quite the contrary. But then... every beginning has its end!
Sir-- In his letter to the editor 'Brain Drain' (Readers Corner, Al-Ahram Weekly, 16-22 September), Sayed Youssef tells us that "unfortunately, Egypt today has been afflicted with the defection of so many of its talents to other countries in search of better income and facilities. If it is material interests which have driven these Egyptian talents away, then it would be a case of disloyalty to the homeland."
It is the homeland that has been disloyal to its own people, it is the homeland that has belittled, ignored, threatened, shunned and driven away the talents of this great country.
Do not add to the burden of Egyptians who have left Egypt. They gave up their homes, their families, their country, their homeland, their identity in order to be able to fulfil their professional destinies in a freer and more appreciative environment, because they were not able to or allowed to do this at home.
I speak as such an Egyptian, and know of what I am talking.
Sir-- Regarding 'Beyond agendas' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 16-22 September), it is apparently true, as Sri Raman says, that India and Pakistan do not have the political will to face up in public to the inevitability of give-and-take on the Kashmir issue for a lasting peace between them.
They also have to respect the wishes of the Kashmiri people more than those of the two countries themselves. Strengthening business and economic cooperation between the two South Asian countries should be given priority and not held hostage to the Kashmir tangle.
Sir-- 'Al-Tijani Al-Tayeb: A revolutionary path' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 9-15 September) offered a rosy and selective account of the history of communism in Sudan. The failed 1971 coup was heavily supported by Soviet intelligence. This is a telling example of the interference and infringement of the sovereign affairs of states by the former USSR in its heyday.
That the United States is accused of doing the same today is ironic. And what is the legacy of communism in Africa and beyond?
Ruin and misery under Mengistu in Ethiopia, foreign interference and civil strife in the Congo and in Angola under the MPLA, starvation and repression in North Korea under the two Kims and isolation and poverty in Cuba under Fidel.
That the people of Eastern Europe and the former USSR rallied towards democracy, freedom and the free market system is testimony to the defunct nature of the superincumbent ideology.
In his concluding comments Mr Al-Tayeb says, "The people of Sudan deserve better." The peoples of the world definitely deserve better than what communism has to offer.
Sir-- I write regarding 'Homage to the letter' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 9-15 September) and the book titled Long Live the Arabic language and Down with Sibawayh by Sherif El-Shoubashy. If you worry about your Arabic Language, then teach it, and use it.
Now most colleges in the Gulf countries teach social science and business in English? It make no sense for a nation with history such as the Arab nation.
Sir-- I read with interest 'Homage to letter' by Abdel- Rahman Ismail in Ahram Weekly. I entirely agree with him on every point he made. I agree that we should introduce more clarifications to our language.
At the same time I absolutely disagree with those who claim that the Arabic grammatical rules need to be changed. Should this happen, it would be a nail in the coffin of the language; it would mean separating the Arabic language from its heritage.
Sir-- It is not a bad thing for one to seek livelihood abroad, but when people risk their lives to do so, it's worth a pause. There is the recent story of 200 Egyptian young men who tried to enter Italy illegally through Libya, but their boats sank and a 17-year-old drowned.
Not so long ago, another group of Egyptian young men tried to find their way to Europe in the same way, and paid huge sums in dollars to a crook who promised them jobs in Europe. On approaching the coast, they were told they had to swim until they reach the Italian shores; but instead of Italy, they found themselves in Alexandria.
What makes those young men leave Egypt in such numbers? We can't blame unemployment because it exists even in developed countries. What makes Egyptian youth so pitiable that they either flee illegally to Europe or try their luck as singers in Star Academy? I await an answer.