Be careful Egypt
Sir-- In 'Sectarian malaise' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 30 November-6 December) Salama A Salama draws a distinction between religion acting as a moral force and religious fanaticism that holds back progress. In summing up, Mr Salama issues a timely warning of the "potentially lethal mix of religious ardour and sectarian discrimination", as experienced in Egypt in recent years. I urge my fellow Egyptians to heed this timely call for national unity against all attempts by fanatics to use and politicise religion, to say no to sectarianism in any way, shape or form and to remain loyal to our beloved Egypt, the land of one of the greatest civilisations humanity has known.
Sir-- 'U-turns to where' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 30 November-6 December) is thoughtful and well written but does not address two fundamental issues: Why are the Iraqis killing each other instead of working together to rekindle their "bright star" and why is the US responsible for the Iraqis' insistence on killing each other? It's time for the Iraqis and indeed the world to stop blaming the Americans and President Bush for the failure of the Iraqi people to capitalise on an historic opportunity handed to them by the Americans.
Gibson still around
Sir-- Lubna Abdel-Aziz's sympathy for Mel Gibson seems unnecessary ('When they cry wolf' Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 November). I live in the same city as he does and know he isn't in hiding like the Danish cartoonists, he hasn't had effigies of him burnt like the pope, hasn't had a death warrant issued against him like Salman Rushdie, didn't have to flee his own country like Oriana Fallaci, nor has he been found dead with a knife stuck in him like Theo Van Gogh. This group that Abdel-Aziz claims rules the world didn't bring their gripe to the UN nor had Mr Gibson had to pay them millions of dollars to appease their anger, unlike Denmark. Furthermore, we now have another celebrity whose racist remarks have made front page news. These remarks were directed towards black people. Does this mean the Jews sometimes loan their all- encompassing power to other groups?
To back Sunnis
Sir-- That the Saudi government may, if US troops leave Iraq, take part in the Iraqi civilwar on the side of Sunni insurgents (many of whom are ideologically inspired by Al-Qaeda, and have been involved in murderous attacks on Iraqi civilians), is a very dangerous development, with potentially devastating consequences on the whole region as well as the Muslim world. Why should we care? Because this escalation will transform the war in Iraq, which clearly is a political struggle between different factions to fill the power vacuum left by toppling Saddam Hussein, into a religious war between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. A Saudi intervention will further destabilise Iraq, and transform this country into yet another training ground for Al-Qaeda terrorists. Moreover, since most Gulf states have sizeable Shia minorities, the conflict may very well spread to these countries as well, thus threatening world peace. Millions of people may die from yet another unnecessary conflict created by zealous think tanks.
Why would the Saudi government do such a thing? At least three points could be made:
- The Saudi government has always been wary of Iran and its growing influence in the region.
- The sectarian war will unify most Sunnis in the region around the Saudi government.
- The majority of Muslims will be so polarised on sectarian rivalries that they would forget about the Palestinian cause which puts tremendous pressure on Arab regimes.
This is nothing new; it has been tried, for instance, after the failed attempt of the US to abort the Islamic revolution in Iran. Back then, Saddam lined up to do the job: the result was eight years of war between Iraq and Iran, two million dead, and the economies of two major Muslim countries devastated.
When one dies
Sir-- A direct, frank, and sensible discussion on the subject 'Beyond the veil' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 23-29 November). I wish other meaningful subjects are examined such as the killings in Iraq, Darfur, and Lebanon between religious groups in the name of politics. It is interesting that when one Muslim is killed for any reason by Israel, 100 articles are written. However, silence is the key word in the Arab media when thousands of Muslims are killed under the guise of politics. Thank you Mr Salama for your courage and intelligent article.
Sir-- The human capacity for destruction is immense from petty vandalism to war ('Fear factor' Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 November). We rush so eagerly to violence and revenge. Logic would seem to suggest an immediate three- month moratorium on any form of force employed from Israel or Palestine. Yet the culture of violence now seems so embedded and the extremist view that life in this world does not matter that it is hard to imagine Hizbullah or other groups staying their hand. From the vantage point of Australia it is hard to imagine Palestinians being able to accommodate a serious truce. Israel claims the right to retaliate and so it goes. I pity the moderate Muslims who wish to live in peace and whose lives are increasingly diminished by the reaction of non- Muslims to Jihadist groups.
Think, then talk
Sir-- When a state official speaks, he should remember he is representing the state and its people so he must be careful about what he says. And if he says something wrong, he has to admit so and apologise ('Wars of the Roses' Al-Ahram Weekly 23-29 November).
I am surprised about those who are supporting the culture minister. It seems they are not in touch with Egyptian society in which veiled women form 95 per cent of all Egyptian women. I also think that instead of this fabricated issue we should concentrate on issues of corruption in Egyptian society, including abuse of power, bribery, nepotism, neglecting culture palaces and firing reformist opposition intellectuals and activists. Meanwhile, I want to express my admiration for the actor Hussein Fahmi who made a similar comment about the veil and later apologised.
Sir-- It is unfortunate that most people don't realise that Jews and Muslims have managed to live in peace and prosperity with each other far longer and more successfully than with Christian authorities. I am not saying that I harbour even the slightest animosity against Christians. I am just reminding people that when push comes to shove, Jews and Muslims have little problem finding common ground. We do fight (Muslims and Jews), but it seems a lot like sibling rivalry -- just as Muslim sects and Jewish sects find themselves at odds.