Right and wrong
Sir-- The US has no right to prevent the will of the Palestinians from being realised in the form of Hamas participating in the government of Palestine, 'Why not Hamas' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 16- 22 February). We do, however, have every right to refuse to help pay for Hamas's involvement. We have no obligation to assist a government that includes Hamas. I wish only the best for the Palestinian people but they lose my support when they allow themselves to be ruled by the likes of Hamas.
It can work
Sir-- The Hamas victory provides a unique opportunity to change the entire equation in the Holy Land. The greatest evil in the 20th century is sectarian statism, and the 58-year history of Israel is proof that it does not work. What is needed in the Holy Land is a secular democracy. If Hamas can recognise and accept that goal for all, be they Muslim, Christian or Jew, they speak from strength, and are on the true road to peace and equality for all. Hamas delivers. That is what counts. Hamas, with enthusiastic support for the world community, can make it happen. No one else can.
Don't back them
Sir-- In response to Mr Hassan Nafaa's article 'Problem or solution' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 9-15 February) Egypt has recognised Israel; why should you support an organisation that wants to destroy Israel? Isn't that hypocritical?
Sir-- It's not peace when you want to exterminate your adversary. An organisation that cannot live in peace with its neighbours, that is founded on violence, cannot lead its people to prosperity, tolerance, and freedom of expression.
We'd like to leave
Sir-- 'Bush is unexceptional' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 February) shows good insight into US policy. However, Arabs should keep in mind that the US is divided today. Republicans still think of the US as great, exceptional and a guide for the world, but many in the Democratic Party consider the US to be the greatest force for evil in the world due to our capitalist system. But ideology did not cause our current entanglement in the Middle East. You'll recall that before the first Gulf war with Iraq, we had been humiliated by the Iranians taking our embassy people hostage, and put up with it, and we gave limited support to the Afghans against the Russians. Other than that, we had no interest in the Middle East. Had we left Iraq alone after they invaded Kuwait and let the Arabs handle the situation, as we should have, then that minor problem would not have escalated over 12 years to the point that we were forced to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq. In all probability, Al-Qaeda today would be just another radical group opposing the secular leadership of the Muslim world. Former President Bush made a grave mistake in launching the first Gulf war, but Arabs shouldn't view the disasters of the past 15 years as a long-term strategy. Isolationism remains strong in the US. Most Americans want to leave the rest of the world alone if it will leave us alone. If the insurgents in Iraq will just calm down for a year or two and allow us to pull out of Iraq with some dignity, I can guarantee you that the US will gladly forget about the Middle East again.
Sir-- I just want to express my concern about the bird flu in your country. I visited Egypt twice in my life and I hope to go there again. The best thing to stop the flu from spreading is to maybe use chemicals to keep the birds away from trash or areas where they can become infected and spread this disease to others. Encourage people to feed birds and keep them healthy. After all God gave us these beautiful animals for a purpose.
Sir-- May I say "Grazie, Lubna" for your lovely article 'Winter Wonderland' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 February). Indeed, the opening ceremony was the best I can remember, especially bringing to life the Renaissance, when art and science worked together instead of being shuffled off into separate university departments. Only one thing was out of place, and that was the song "Imagine". How illogical, in an Olympic contest, to sing "Imagine there's no countries"! What, then, would be the point of the Olympics? It is true that the Olympics set aside the fervent hostilities of nationalism, but to go from there to abolishing countries altogether would be like the man who found that a certain kind of stove reduced his fuel bill by half, and thence concluded that two stoves of the same kind would allow him to heat his house with no fuel at all.
Sir-- I would like to thank Mr Mohamed Sid- Ahmed for his great articles and insight, 'A bridge across the Red Sea' ( ( Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 February). I strongly think that the Salam 98 incident should be seen as an example of corruption. We have people with the blood of 1,000 innocent Egyptians on their hands. If that does not mobilise the masses, what will? I truly hope that this incident will become the start of corruption cleansing, not a triumph for the corrupt.
It would have been different
Sir-- Is the death of 1,000 not deserving of mourning or are our lives cheaper than others? What if those who died were foreigners? Do you think the reaction would have been the same?
I think our ministers, instead of attending a football match, should have been elsewhere when we first heard of the sinking.
Now the foe
Sir-- For many years Denmark has been a close friend of Arab nations. Has a couple of stupid persons in a private newspaper made us your enemy?
Sir-- Many Danes have sharply distanced themselves from the cartoons, even long before Danish products were boycotted and Danish interests threatened. Danes have been collecting signatures condemning these cartoons. There have been street demonstrations headed by Danish personalities from within the church and the cultural circles condemning Jyllands-Posten and the cartoons. In the name of the Danish people, we wholeheartedly convey to you our sincere apology.
Only a few
Sir-- Freedom of speech is not a free ticket to offend the deepest feelings of fellow human beings and everybody should be held fully responsible for what he writes or says. I want to apologise to all Muslims for the irresponsible deeds of my countrymen from Jyllands-Posten and assure everybody concerned that only a few people in Denmark think like those who published the caricatures. I remember well the friendliness and tolerance I met everywhere when I was travelling in Islamic countries to study Islamic art and architecture.
Sir-- It is interesting that your interviewer did not ask the Danish prime minister that since his culture is so open to satire, how is it that the same paper refused to print cartoons of Jesus three years ago?
To do the same
Sir-- I find your cartoons of Jews are as offensive as those depicting the Prophet Mohamed. You use a double standard. Do you think we Americans would be justified to burn Muslim- owned homes and business and inflict bodily harm on Muslims because of this?
Sir-- Why is it that it is fine for Egyptian papers to almost daily present cartoons offending Jewish and other religions? Is it only newspapers in the West which are not allowed to print offending cartoons about religion?