Is it only one way?
Sir-- One cannot thank you enough for this enlightened comment ('Footnotes on Marwa's murder' 16-22 July, Al-Ahram Weekly ). Those condemning the Germans and Germany nowadays, first among them Iran, where any female foreign visitor is forced to wear the veil, tend to forget that Marwa El-Sherbini had the right to her religious beliefs defended for her by a German court and that she won her case! On the other hand, it is conveniently forgotten that the German missionaries abducted in Yemen (among them two toddlers and an infant) likewise lived their belief in an alien environment, yet I haven't seen anyone condemning their kidnappers. So, does it work only in one direction?
Just think -- if a German woman wore the clothing she is free to wear in Germany on an Egyptian street and got molested or even killed. Wouldn't most people just shrug and say, 'Well, she asked for it, didn't she?' I heard such comments again and again after attacks on tourists, all along the same lines: They don't behave like us, they don't dress like us, so they are worth less and they get what they deserve. The last time I heard this was after the bombing at Khan Al-Khalili when the victim was a French schoolgirl with all her life still before her.
The reason for this is a profound lack of interest in anything beyond the small fishbowl the average citizen occupies. Go ahead and ask any foreign resident if he/she ever met genuine interest in his/ her background, culture, opinions and interests. I'll bet most Egyptians are convinced the average European is routinely desecrating any given religion and generally behaving abominously. Moreover, people are not interested to learn the contrary, to meet and get acquainted, like Mr Abdel-Moneim Said's philosophical driver.
So, what I don't know, I will fear, and what I fear, I will ultimately hate, which makes me a tool for whatever lobby wants to avail itself of my aggression. I wish people would stop to think about it and ask themselves: who profits?
Keep the noose
Sir-- I think that Egypt would be very stupid to bow to pressure from the EU and others to abolish hanging ('Death row debates' 2-8 July, Al-Ahram Weekly ). Abolishing the death penalty without any form of consultation with the people has been highly unpopular in places like the UK (see the recent opinion poll in the Sun ). Besides, whatever anyone says, Supermax life imprisonment is even crueler. I don't know whether you have NBC videos in Egypt. If you do look up the "Lock Up" series to see what is wrong in US prisons to start off with. And we now have DNA profiling, etc to dispel doubts over guilt.
The oppressed problem
Sir -- Re 'A study in contrasts' (16-22 July Al-Ahram Weekly ), I was in Xinjiang last January and you could feel the tension in Urumqi and Kashi. I had a Uigher taxi driver tell me it was not Xinjiang, but Turkistan and he refused to pick up Han Chinese. I've had Han tell me that the US has no right to tell China about territorial claims, when they hold Hawaii, Alaska, not to mention Britain with its Falklands and Gilbraltar and other claims, or France with French Polynesia, Seychelles, Reunion and others they claim as part of their countries. The Uigher people feel no different than Native Americans, Hawaiians, Inuits, or any other native group that has no self-appointed leadership.
China has invested much into Xinjiang and is unfortunate there is not more integration of the Uighurs into the system. This is the dilemma of all oppressed peoples who face the boot of their master as they use the lands they occupied with no regard for who lived there before them.
As for what the US is up to in Afghanistan, if it didn't have the farcical war on terror to peddle, then the Military Industrial Complex economy would not produce what it does best, which is death and destruction.