Al-Ahram Weekly Online   10 - 16 February 2005
Issue No. 729
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

Click to view caption
cartoon by Ossama Qassim

International justice

Sir-- When is the Bush administration going to be called up to The Hague (World Court) for human rights violations and a host of other violations of international law?

Robin Simpson

The only hope

Sir-- Regarding 'Open letter to President George W Bush' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 20-26 January), as a European Muslim frightened by American unilateralism and the serious excesses of US policies, it is towards worthy and critical American citizens that I invite Muslims to turn and to bring together their hopes.

If Muslims are right in not trusting Bush, they should not confuse the American people with the callous spirits that surround him. If with strength of conscience and intelligence they succeed in distinguishing between his administration and the American people, and continue to engage in dialogue with those American citizens who have not been blinded, then hope remains. That is the only hope.

I hope that Muslims and Americans and all Europeans can work together to realise our common desire for a peaceful world and to overcome the unilateralism, unjust policies and the hatred that President George W Bush is spreading around the world.

We need to be strong and stand together for the next four years, until the American people can vote for a president who will work not only for the hopes of the American people, but for the world.

As for Hassan Nafaa's 'America's Jihad' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 27 January--2 February), I tend to agree with Mr Nafaa and I feel many other Americans do also. These are very scary times we live in, and I wish I were not here.

Che Asv

At long last

Sir-- As the whole world watched with bated breath the first moments of the Iraqi elections, I believe it was evident that a historical moment was unfolding before us. We watched with pleasure the joy in the eyes, the smiles on the faces, and the pride in having a finger stained with the purple election marking fluid.

Yes, yes, this is only the beginning of a long journey; but what a glorious thing it is to have, at last an example, of the will of the people being expressed in a country of the Arab Middle East.

I cannot remember faces glowing with such joy and pride amongst the people of this region. May God bless Iraq and bring to it peace, harmony and prosperity at long last.

Raouf Zaidan

Forcing democracy

Sir-- I have yet to see or hear one single Arab positive comment about the historical Iraqi elections. No question, things could have been done differently if it were not for the violent interventions by the haters of democracy and its empowering values. What matters most, is that the Iraqi people were willing to die to be the masters of their own destiny and the owners of their country and wealth. This reality will happen in due time.

The question that should be asked is: Why is it that only Arabs and Muslims under foreign occupation are allowed to go to the polls and choose their representatives freely? It's unfortunate that the Iraqi elections have to take place the way they did, but what other options do the Iraqis have? Another 50 years of torture, murder, humiliation and degradation at the hands of another vicious dictator?

If the Arab regimes and peoples are against imposed democracy, then this is their chance to have free elections without outside intervention. In my opinion, this is what the crying and whining Arab journalists, human right activists and democracy promoters should be debating, arguing and do whatever it takes to democratise their stagnant and failing societies.

If it takes foreign powers to free the Arab and Muslim people from the poisonous claws of their oppressive regimes, then be it. The world is going to continue shaping the Middle East since the region's regimes won't let go of their absolute rules and dangerous policies.

Ali Alyami
Washington, DC

Homage to the greats

Sir-- I was personally moved by Naguib Mahfouz's memory of Salama Moussa as "one of my most respected mentors" in 'The laureates' colloquy' ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 3-9 February).

In the summer of 1957, a year before Moussa's death, I had the good fortune of being on a family vacation with him in Ras Al-Barr resort. He was my great uncle (my mother's paternal uncle). I was a teenager then, in secondary school and to his profound disappointment, I admitted to him that I never heard of Naguib Mahfouz.

The few words he said were to the effect that Mahfouz was one of the greatest novelists of the time and it was a shame that his work was not a required reading. Little did he know then that his words were prophetic, and that some 30 years later Mahfouz will be the recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature. May God rest his beautiful soul.

Fikry Boulos Salib
Stamford, CT

Goodbye princess

Sir-- I was very sorry to read about the death of Princess Fawzia, the second daughter of King Farouk of Egypt, 'A daring princess' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 February). What a lovely princess she was too. Indeed, she was a daring princess with a pilot's licence; a scuba diver and speaking five languages. A 20th century woman.

It must have been very difficult to see such an active princess become afflicted by multiple sclerosis later in her life. Still, her active life probably delayed the onset of this chronic and crippling disease. I was so glad she was able to return to Egypt after her long exile in Switzerland, to be buried along with her sister.

My deepest sympathy to her family and the Egyptian people. May she rest in peace.

Doris Cadigan

Happy traveller

Sir-- My family and I visited Egypt for three weeks in December 2004/January 2005. In every way it was an enjoyable, unforgettable experience, not least because of the friendly, welcoming Egyptian people who enjoy a good joke as we do. While in Cairo, I lost my passport, return air tickets to Singapore and other important documents in a travel wallet. I got them all back in Luxor three days later.

While staying at the Windsor Hotel, I went to Al-Alfi post office nearby and apparently left the wallet on the counter. The manager, Mr Gamal Girguis, contacted the Singapore Embassy, noting from the passport that I am a permanent resident of Singapore, and that the plane tickets were back to Singapore. The embassy dispatched a messenger immediately.

In the meantime, unaware that the documents were missing, I left for Luxor by train with my family. The Singapore Embassy contacted the British Embassy, who quickly sent someone to collect the passport. In Luxor, I discovered the loss and made a report to the Tourist Police, who handled the matter politely and efficiently. I contacted the British consul in Luxor, Mr Ehab Gaddis, and EgyptAir where they kindly allowed me to make a free call to their code-share partner, Malaysian airlines. I was assured that new tickets could be issued in minutes and there would not be a problem.

I called the Windsor Hotel in Cairo, where the staff did a thorough search. By good chance, the British consul flew to Cairo that day and was informed that my passport was at the British Embassy. He returned with it to Luxor the following day. He even came round to my friendly budget hotel, the Grand, in Luxor, and the manager there, Sayed, told me the good news when I came back after a day on the West Bank. The next day, I was joyfully reunited with my passport and all the other documents intact. Mr Gaddis noted that it was a pleasure to deal with someone happy, not the usual round of complaints and problems.

I will be making a donation, on his recommendation, to the Cairo Children's Cancer Hospital in the name of the good people of Egypt who solved my problem so quickly and efficiently. I will be recommending to all my friends that Egypt is a very safe and splendid place to visit.

Robert Heath

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