Some Concerns About Muslims in America

I appreciated the series of articles (Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, and Feb. 12) on Muslims in America.

I have two concerns: 1) that it be seen that the traditionalists desire to impose their interpretations of Islam (and Christianity) throughout the world, and that new interpretations of Islam in predominating Islamic countries can be eliminated by radicals who are not open to new interpretations; 2) that the issue of the head scarf is relatively minor compared with female circumcision.

In the height of summer, I frequently see Islamic women covered in heavy trench coats, with the head scarf. It seems particularly harsh since I see the husband in short sleeves and the children dressed for Florida weather. I admire anyone who follows their faith to the best of their present understanding. What hurts me is to see none of these women smiling or looking happy. They invariably look the opposite.

Karin Gillett Melbourne, Fla.

Islamic parties threaten democracy

Regarding the article ''One Man's Crusade to Set the Media Straight,'' Feb. 5: American Muslims decry news media stories of a worldwide ''Islamic threat.''

There are good grounds for fearing such a threat: 1) the cruel Islamic dictatorship in Iran, which actively sponsors international terrorism; and 2) Islamic parties have refused to certify that if elected to power in a country, they will abide by democratic processes such as giving non-Muslims a reasonable share of government positions, guarantee freedom of religion and free elections, or if voted out, relinquish power to an elected non-Islamic government. Until they honestly make such a certification and are willing to follow through with it, Islamic political parties are rightly regarded as a threat to democracy.

David Herron Atherton, Calif.

Secret sources: abuse of journalism

Regarding the front-page article ''After Years of Being Bashed, Media Start to Bash Themselves,'' Jan. 30: One of the most glaring abuses of modern journalism is the use of unnamed, off-the-record sources. In no other arena - judicial, academic, or scientific - are unnamed sources admissible as evidence. The tendency to use unnamed sources has become so pervasive that even this article contained a quote from ''a prominent reporter who declined to respond on the record.''

Use of this quote by no means discredits the overall thesis of this excellent article, but it does point out how cavalier even a highly respected publication like the Monitor has become toward this form of journalistic abuse.

Paul Shankwiler Lafayette, Calif.

Farm act would have tragic effects

Regarding the editorial ''The Evolving Farm Bill,'' Feb. 9: In past farm-bill philosophy, taxpayers provided a safety net to farmers, and farmers supplied taxpayers with a safe, stable food supply. To return to the laissez-faire policies of the pre-dust-bowl years would be tragic. The act proposed by Congressman Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas does this, requiring taxpayers to pay for nothing.

Critical environmental standards for soil protection, including erosion and pesticide controls, are compromised in the ultimate execution of this act. The ''modern farming methods'' the editorial touts as providing an adequate food supply require enormous regulation for environmental, worker, and consumer safety. As a wheat farmer and licensed pesticide applicator, I have seen tragic effects of this volatile, misunderstood technology.

There is a vital link between farm subsidies and conservation compliance. Remove the link and you remove the control. ''Boosting conservation programs'' as the editorial suggests, will do nothing.

Kathleen S. Kelley Meeker, Colo.

Owner/Manager Sullivan Kelley Farms

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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