Never heard of him
Sir-- There is no one named Misson who was ever made leader of the Baha'i faith ('The others' Al-Ahram Weekly 11-17 May). The head of the Baha'i community from 1921-1957 was Shoghi Effendi Rabbani. In 1963, the Baha'is elected, from among all Baha'is in the world, the nine men of the Universal House of Justice, which is the community's governing body. Those nine men come from many places including Iran, Africa, Europe, America and Asia. The Baha'i faith's world centre is in Haifa and Akko because its founder, Baha'ullah, was exiled there by the Iranian and Ottoman authorities in 1868, long before the establishment of the state of Israel.
The Mosque of Al-Aqsa is in Jerusalem, now ruled by Israel, yet you do not attack your fellow Muslims as being in league with Zionism because your own holy place is there. Do not Muslims send endowments to the sacred Muslim shrines in Jerusalem? Why constantly call the Baha'is "Zionists" and "spies" because our holy places are there and we send funds for their upkeep? Our funds go only to the Baha'i endowments there just as yours go only to the Islamic endowments.
Baha'is are categorically forbidden to engage in political activity, sedition, and dissension. We are not permitted to interfere with government affairs. We only seek to practice our faith without fear.
Sir-- There is no respectable evidence at all that the Baha'is are "Israeli spies", have "strong links with global Zionism in both theory and practice", or "were notorious for being instrumental in helping the British occupation of India". The Baha'i faith is recognised as a world religion and is respected for the contribution that it makes towards inter-faith dialogue, women's rights, and social and economic development.
It's a religion
Sir-- Baha'i is not a cult and it is not founded in Israel. It comes from Persia. They are not atheists. They believe wholly in God so if you want to call it a cult, then call all religions cults.
The Baha'i faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. It is based on the teachings of Baha'ullah (1817-1892), who is regarded by Baha'is as the most recent in a line of messengers of God. Baha'ullah taught that there is only one God and one human family, that all religions represent progressive stages in the revelation of God's will, and that humanity is reaching its long-awaited stage of maturity, when a peaceful and just world order can finally be realised.
Sir-- I am reminded of the principle of freedom of the press by your decision to print the article that discusses the issue of human rights as it applies to Egyptian members of a minority religion, the Baha'i faith. While I disagree with the logic of the opponents, the way you have accurately and respectfully presented spokesmen for both sides of the argument is a tribute to your publication's aspiration to higher ideals.
Sir-- The article on the Moussaoui verdict by Tamam Ahmed Jama ('Moussaoui escapes death' Al-Ahram Weekly 11-17 May) is quite different from the viewpoint that most Americans would expect. It put us in the US in a better light than possibly we deserve given we have invaded an Arab country on the basis of fabricated facts. But in the greater scheme of things the article portrays us more like we are, which is forgiving. The principle which the verdict represents, and the expressions echoed by surviving families, is that it is immoral to punish a crime with the commission of a crime. It is a principle of justice that would serve well in every country on the globe. For my countrymen, let me thank Jama and Al-Ahram Weekly for remaining even-handed. It's nice to know others see our virtues along with our transgressions. It means there may be hope for the brotherhood of man.
Sir-- Ahmedinejad has no clue about how things work in the US and its political establishment. Here, economic forces much more than any religious motivation drives decisions and keeps them uniform. He is living in his dream world and using rhetoric that serves as fuel for the US elite to justify their many motives in the region. He is buying into what the US considers important regarding Iran, the nuclear issue, while forgetting about his people and the real issues at home. He is thereby giving legitimacy to the desires of the US elite, rather than ignoring them. If Ahmedinejad feels that Bush is going to read his letter and say "Allahu Akbar" and close down the shop that the corporations have set up in America's political arena, he is dangerously naive. If the purpose of his letter was to rally support of the masses in the Middle East for the purpose of Iranian hegemony in the region, he is equally naive, given the situation in Iraq and Iran's role in sectarianism that is in tune with the desires of the US elite.
Sir-- You mentioned oil as the reason why the US is turning up the heat on Iran ('Washington and Tehran' Al-Ahram Weekly 11-17 May). But I noticed in the article that you forgot to mention "nuclear weapons". That seems to me a pretty big omission.
The Bard in Arabic
Sir-- As a long-standing admirer of Enani's multifaceted work, I read with pleasure his 'On translating Shakespeare into Arabic' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 13-29 April). The article raises many questions, but I will make a few comments on the historical narrative constructed by Enani.
The article states that "the earliest extant Shakespearean translation dates as far back as 1900, namely Mohamed Iffat's ...translation of Macbeth." The earliest translation of a Shakespeare play is of Macbeth in 1900 by Abdel-Malik Effendi Ibrahim and Iskandar Effendi Abdel-Malik (see Misr newspaper, 17 July 1900). A translation of Romeo and Juliet by Tanyus Abduh is thought to have been produced in the last decade of the 19th century. 1900 also saw the publishing of an abridged translation of a selection of Shakespeare's plays by Iskandar Effendi Quds and Kamil Effendi Hunayn ( Misr, 23 July 1900). Mohamed Iffat's verse translation of Macbeth was published in 1911 and never staged.
Enani mentions Sheikh Salama Higazi's Shuhada' Al-Gharam (Martyrs of Love), a musical version of Romeo and Juliet which was staged in 1912. The version of Romeo and Juliet in which Higazi starred as Romeo was translated by Naguib El-Haddad (1867-1899) around 1892 and performed in the same year (see Al-Muqattam newspaper report on 30 August 1892).
The article suggests that Mutran's translations of Shakespeare did not start before the 1930s. But Mutran's translations started as early as 1912 when he was commissioned by director Jurj Abyad to produce a translation of Othello. For the same troupe, Mutran later translated Macbeth in 1917 and Hamlet in 1918. The last known translation of a Shakespearean play by Mutran was his prose version of The Merchant of Venice, first published in 1922.
Enani suggests that no translation of Shakespeare in Egyptian Arabic was produced since 1984 after his and Samir Sarhan's translations in Egyptian Arabic were heavily criticised. Two translations of Othello in Egyptian Arabic have been produced since: one by Nu'man Ashur, published in Al-Masrah in 1984; and the second by Mustafa Safwan, published in 1998. The first was staged only a few years ago under the title Mandil Al-Helw (Sweetheart's Handkerchief). The second was in 2000 by a small troupe in Mansoura (see Nehad Selaiha's review, Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 April, 2000).