Sir-- We congratulate President Mubarak for becoming Egypt's first elected president and urge him to keep his promises. I think that we the people have the right to request our president to give priority to the problems of unemployment, democratising our political life, eliminating corruption, redrawing our foreign policy and preserving our country's leading role in the region.
Sir-- We must congratulate President Mubarak for his victory but to be sure, Egypt is the one true winner.
Sir-- With reference to 'Enough is still enough' by Amira Howeidy ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 September) it has to be acknowledged that despite the blandness of political activity, the Mubarak regime has monumental achievements to its credit. The latest Africa map of National Geographic shows water bodies of the Toshka Barrage erected to irrigate stark and barren lands in the Western Desert. The map also shows the Safaga-Qena desert highway which clearly indicates the stupendous efforts of the Mubarak regime in modernising the infrastructure, which will ultimately lead to improving the quality of life.
However, the groundwork for strong and viable political and social institutions could be laid in the coming few years, which could give the people a sense of participation and achievement in a healthy democratic climate. Political activity is not new to Egypt but it could flourish in a society where there is total literacy and extensive awareness of social and technical skills.
Explaining to others
Sir-- Karen Hughes, the public face of the 2000 Bush presidential campaign, was sworn in as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. The president explained during the swearing in ceremony that Hughes is being appointed to explain "our policies and fundamental values" to people around the world, specifically to the Arab and Muslim world.
Before embarking on this huge task, Ms Hughes would do well to begin at home. Recent polls suggest that not only are people around the world weary of the policies pursued by this American administration, its own citizens are beginning to show discontent and are questioning its "values and policies". The Katrina disaster has not helped the government either. Many now question the delayed, impersonal response of an administration that had been reminding them since 9/11, through multi- coloured codes and alert levels, that the safety of its citizens was their number one priority.
Americans, for possibly the first time ever, are wondering whether their government actually cares about them or merely feigns concern for ulterior motives. They are also beginning to understand how foreigners feel about American "values and policies" after they witnessed first- hand the destruction of an entire city due to the misplaced priorities of a government.
The world for once might be coming together in its common distrust of the American elite.
Take care now
Sir-- America's Congressional agenda should shift to home and issues and concerns on its own soil after Hurricane Katrina left so many homeless and dead as well as leaving America's international reputation soiled and humiliated not only in front of allies but enemies as well.
Katrina did what many Americans could not get -- the US government's attention turned to its own people instead of trying to police the world and save it while neglecting its own.
How many times will it take before we get the message that Americans need to take care of home before they don't have one?
Sir-- It is really too bad that, regardless of the fact that in the wake of Katrina, some US anchors and journalists finally managed to show their human face, US papers, journals and all the TV paraphernalia, still cannot, dare not, do not have the nerve to say that this administration ought to be dismantled before we can start to heal and feel self-esteem again.
It is also too bad indeed that Al-Ahram Weekly is not widely read in the US for it is obvious that the country needs a mirror abroad in which we would dare to see our true image.
He wants peace
Sir-- There is nothing Bush would like more than total peace in Iraq. No conspiracy theory that says the US wants civil war in Iraq makes any sense from a political perspective. The argument is irrational on its face.
Blood for blood
Sir-- In reading Professor Galal Amin's well- considered article 'Sixteen points on terrorism' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 September) I respectfully suggest that he has neglected to take into account some pertinent additional points.
The IRA provided a 75-year model for the current wave of terrorism. A study of Northern Ireland's faux "religion"-based conflict would answer many questions regarding how certain configurations of poverty, occupation, repression and resentment breed their own momentum of destructive, mindless and ill-aimed violence.
The profile of the typical American "gang" culture offers another model for terrorist violence. It is a model that has no goal beyond the vicarious short-term thrill of blood for blood in response to real and perceived threats. Numerous studies indicate that both gangbangers and terrorists on the street level share common traits. These are young, testosterone-driven males whose toughness hides an emotional/ experiential naiveté. They legitimately see inequities and oppression in their immediate lives and in their limited larger world view, but -- lacking the skills and sophistication to analyse and deal with those problems through mainstream socio-political channels -- respond with the emotional impulses and extremities of youth. This makes them easily manipulated by charismatic father "like me" authority figures, either directly or as misplaced role models after whom they pattern their actions.
Sir-- 'Sixteen points on terrorism' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 September) is simply a thinly veiled attempt at intellectualising conspiracy theories. We should not be intellectually bullied into accepting Galal Amin's thesis that anyone who questions the current assumptions of the war on terror will be labelled a conspiracy theorist. There is nothing wrong in questioning the war on terror or the notion of Al-Qaeda as an international network that has global control over all radical Islamist terrorist groups. However, Mr Amin goes beyond this and fails to rise above the all too common modern Arab practice of blaming others and of neglecting self- criticism.
We have a problem with terrorists in our own midst and must accept and address this. The danger of Mr Amin's piece is that it lends credence to wild conspiracy theories because it is dressed up in the language of academia by a respected professor.
Sir-- This week marks the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a tragedy that has affected every person on this planet directly or indirectly. Now that four years have passed, the world has changed much. Now we have a global war on terror, but we also have a global terror that gets even bigger, hitting the world's safest places and leaving dozens of orphans and widows behind. This means that fighting terror with terror will lead to mass devastation.
If the world wants to get rid of terror, here is the tip: terrorism has emerged in countries where order is imposed by violence and freedoms are restricted, if it existed in the first place. If we want to fight terror we should deprive it from its raw materials, i.e. the youth who are recruited by terrorist organisations.
Instead of waging war against countries to track down a tyrant president or topple a corrupt regime, global powers have to unite and organise anti-terrorism campaigns that educate people on how terrorism will destroy their world.
Clear on SLM
Sir-- In 'Slow but sure' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8- 14 September) Gamal Nkrumah refers to the Sudan Liberation Movement [SLM] as secularist. This assertion does not reflect the real situation today. The chief government negotiator on Darfur, Majzoub Al-Khalifa Ahmed, has affirmed in a television interview aired on 9 September on Al-Mustaqilla news channel that the question of separating religion and state was dropped from the agenda by the SLM at the negotiations in Abuja. He said there were differences among the SLM leadership as regards this particular demand and added that the people of Darfur and their history and cultural makeup reject such usurpation.
Abd Al-Jaleel Hamza