'Terrorism is you only'
Sir-- British politicians are now busy passing new legislation in the name of making Britain safer. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, says: "If you are saying things that encourage people to become suicide bombers, that should be against the law." Would someone please tell him it is not the saying of things but the doing of things that encourages people to become suicide bombers. It is the double standards and hypocritical doings of Britain.
One of the new measures will also make it an offence to "justify or glorify terrorism". While it sounds like a very clever idea, Blair's government conveniently forgets to define what terrorism is. Is it "terrorism" only when oppressed, invaded and humiliated peoples retaliate, or does terrorism also encompass the invasion of states that have no "WMDs" or the occupation of poor countries aided by American-supplied F-16s, British-supplied "heavy water" or the French technology that established Dimona? You want to talk about terrorism? Fine, let's talk about terrorism, Western aggressors.
Suicide is sane?
Sir-- Regarding the opinion piece 'America shares the blame' by Mohamed Shahid Alam ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 August), to simply point a finger at a New York Times columnist and not make a more in-depth examination of the problem is a superficial form of denial.
The fact is the countries that produce these "sane" terrorists are authoritarian, Islamic governments for the most part that allow little or no disagreement with public policy or Islamic interpretation. I question the use of the word "sane" to describe the killing of civilians. Obviously the author considers suicide to be a sane endeavour, but why don't the terrorists commit suicide alone?
Sir-- Regarding the article 'A blueprint for reform' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 August), which I thought marvellous, it is outstanding to see so many people want to run in the upcoming and first-ever multi-candidate presidential elections in our country.
When President Mubarak said, "we will open more horizons for society in order to protect and enrich our democratic experiment", I felt that the man has a serious plan for comprehensive reform; that he realised the world is rapidly changing around us into a different one. Our country urgently needs new economic programmes and new faces, particularly in the ruling National Democratic Party.
At the same time, there are other political forces such as the Kifaya Movement for Change, the Muslim Brotherhood and some opposition parties that say President Mubarak will not offer new policies. They use every means to express their opinion, including demonstrations and the press. There is no doubt that all these developments are healthy, so long as they take place in a peaceful way.
We Egyptians hope that our government will go ahead in its reformist policy and give to our country its deserved status and role in the world.
Alaa Gamal Abdel-Hakim
In profound honour
Sir-- Regarding the obituary of John Garang de Mabior, 'Visionary and peacemaker' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 August), I wish to add that the feelings of loss that the peoples of Sudan bear are almost too profound to put into words.
Dr Garang was able to bridge north, south, east and west. As a northerner, I am personally aggrieved by his untimely demise because he was a true patriot -- a Sudanese leader who had lofty dreams and aspirations for the whole Sudanese nation.
As a son of our great land he had no vested interest to stunt development in Sudan. He strove for development of Sudan's resources for the Sudanese in the Blue Nile and in the South and in all of Sudan's underdeveloped areas. May the new SPLM leadership follow the line he so skillfully etched towards realising a renaissance for our great nation!
Sir-- Regarding the commentary 'Masters and deputies' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 28 July-3 August) Mr Howeidi has it half right.
It is increasingly clear that Americans have come to believe that they were misled into the war and pressure is growing for withdrawal. I doubt, however, that there will be continued occupation. It is evident that the political experts who do the president's thinking for him (Cheney, Rove, et al) have decided that the troops must be seen to be leaving in a definitive way by the time of the November 2006 Congressional elections.
The recent combat deaths of 21 Marines were concentrated in one battalion in Ohio, a key election battleground. The Plame scandal daily gets closer to White House staff. The principal pre- occupation of the current incumbents is to maintain themselves in power. If that requires first conquering, then destroying, then abandoning Iraq altogether, that is what they will do. In my opinion, that is what they are going to do.
S G Briggs
New Orleans, LA
News on the Nile
Sir-- I have been reading in our Egyptian newspapers many comments concerning the deterioration of Nile water quality and the health and environmental problems resulting from that. I wonder why doesn't the government respond to those claims? I believe the data is there. If it is true that there are major health and environmental risks associated with the Nile water, we all, including the government, are obliged to make serious changes. I believe that a respected paper like yours should investigate this in great detail and inform the public of the results.
Sir-- The official mantra that dropping atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 was necessary and "saved lives" has been repeated in the US ad nauseam for 60 years. The US government -- having broken the Japanese code -- knew its adversary was frantically looking for a face-saving way to surrender. The US dropped the bombs anyway, not because Japan refused to quit but in order to test its new weaponry and quiet the Russians.
Not only did the bombs cruelly end astonishing numbers of Japanese and Korean lives, they also knowingly killed dozens of American POWs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So long as Americans continue to justify the nuclear terror attacks on the people of those two cities, it is difficult to even begin to come to grips with the desperate need to abolish nuclear weapons and thus eliminate the possibility of similar atrocities ever being repeated.
Sir-- Having read 'Who will win?' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 August) by Mona El-Nahhas and Mustafa El-Menshawy, I am pleased to see that more than one candidate intends to contest the upcoming presidential elections. All candidates are competing for one objective. I believe the decision of the opposition to field candidates in the elections, abandoning the boycott, was a right one. Even more encouraging is the decision of the Presidential Elections Committee to use transparent ballot boxes.
These are historic steps; ones I am sure marking a break between the past and the present in Egyptian political life. The onus is upon us to participate in the elections and vote for the best candidate to lead our country. Iranians have succeeded in applying and practising democracy, and we can do this. It is our time.