On the side
Sir-- 'Copts mix cards' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 24- 30 November) was a great article that sheds light on the increasingly polarised relations between Egyptian Copts and Muslims. The hardliners on both sides should stop focussing on issues that create hatred and start focussing on matters that can bring them closer to each other. It is possible to put religion aside and co-exist peacefully. Copts and Muslims have normal social and business relations in Cairo and Alexandria.
Who and what
Sir-- Mr Emad Mekay 'Copts mix cards' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 24-30 November) never explains in his article who those "Copts" really are and never explains, as I expected, what those "cards" that those "Copts" are mixing.
Mr Mekay is entitled to his opinion but this does not absolve him from seeming to have his own agenda. What is not ok is that he does not address the real questions and concerns that are posed by Copts in Egypt and outside Egypt, and were being addressed in such a meeting. I'm sure he would agree with me that this is a healthy way of addressing such issues in the real world.
I'm of the opinion that Copts should hold such meetings in Egypt and discuss such issues, real or imagined, with Egyptian Muslims, and all should be included, as in the good, the bad and the ugly. But I'm afraid to say that most Egyptian Muslims, and I suspect this includes Emad Mekay, are still in denial that many Copts have real issues that need to be addressed.
Sir-- In order for everyone to survive in Egypt, I think it would be a good idea to separate the state and religions. Let everyone who wants to worship to do so in whatever they believe, and let all qualified Egyptians be part of their government regardless of their faith and name. And please let those smart Egyptians demonstrate, talk and write about their opinions. I am sure they have a lot to say.
Sir-- Most Arab media has avoided, either through ignorance or through malice, the visit of the former grand master of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke to the Syrian capital Damascus. US Congressmen Duke declared his support and solidarity with the Syrian government in its moment of crisis with the world.
Well, I guess the next step the Baath of Syria and the KKK will initiate will be brotherhood and cooperation agreements.
Caught off guard?
Sir-- 'Dealing with a new reality' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 24-30 November) raises a few questions, the most obvious being whether the NDP saw this (the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as a political party) coming or were they so consumed with fending off minor parties that they elected not to go head-to-head against a "party" that uses the name of religion as a substitute to a clear political charter and agenda.
The next pertinent question is now that the NDP's reign is being seriously challenged, does it have the political will and/or capability to renew itself and to get out of its complacency and years of unchallenged authority and serve the Egyptian people? I dread to think of Egypt's future if the answer to either question is no.
Sir-- I just knew they would find those WMDs ('Chemical hypocrisy' Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 November). They were just looking in the wrong direction! It was the US who had them. But they were there! Thank you so much for your courageous, truthful, important article.
Sir-- Thank you for this article about the barbarism described in the attack on Falluja ('Chemical hypocrisy' Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 November). The article about the savage inhuman methods of post-modern urban war against unarmed civilians certainly dints the "heroic" crusading CNN journalism of the Pentagon.
How dare they?
Sir-- Leave it to Dick Cheney, the one most prone to depart from truth when it comes to the Iraq war, to now smear critics of that war for questioning the truthfulness of the administration. It was Cheney who started beating the drums of war way back on 26 August 2002: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." It was Cheney who kept insisting that Mohamed Atta had met Iraqi intelligence in Prague, a meeting that evidently did not occur. It was Cheney who practically took up residence at Langley, leaning on the sifters of intelligence over at the CIA to come up with anything that might help make the case for war. It was Cheney who said, just days before Bush launched this reckless war, that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted nuclear weapons when, in fact, UN weapons inspectors said he hadn't even reconstituted his nuclear weapons programme and the CIA itself said he was ways away from acquiring them. So who is Cheney to say anything about this now, except perhaps, "I'm sorry, I messed up"? But no apology has passed from Cheney's lips. Quite the contrary. There he was on 16 November saying senators who dare to suggest that the Bush administration manipulated the intelligence are making "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city".
Colin Powell and others said not so long before the hostility by America against Iraq commenced that when a "fire" starts that might require committing armed forces, we need to evaluate the circumstances. Relevant questions include: Is the political objective we seek to achieve important, clearly defined and understood? Have all other non-violent policy means failed? Will military force achieve the objective? At what cost? Have the gains and risks been analysed? How might the situation that we seek to alter, once it is altered by force, develop further and what might be the consequences?
Sir-- Given the hastening of timetables for completion for possible deployment and use, I have been contemplating when Israel might strike an initial pre-emptive or crippling blow against Iran. The difference between the Iranian situation and North Korea is that Iran has a rekindling of pan-Islamic aspirations whereas North Korea is merely a matter of vainglory and exploitation as fuel for its continuance, though they do present a very real threat. A more compelling thought is that Israel has taken provocative, decisive, and unilateral action in the past. For example, consider the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osiraq in 1981. Israel will not hesitate to do the same in like manner. I am suggesting that Israel will most likely do so before the year's end. How will the rest of the international community respond?
And what about Israel's WMDs? Where are the international inspectors?
Joined at the hip
Sir-- Your theory on who would gain from Rafik Al-Hariri's death seems to be the accurate way to view this deliberate murder. I think your hypothesis is correct, and it leads me to wonder if Israel is involved wouldn't that automatically involve the United States too, since the US is Israel's main arms supplier and each one seems to act, in the Middle East ,with each other's tacit approval.