Understanding Islam

Regarding the opinion-page article ``The West's Misperception of Islam,'' Jan. 17: Appreciating the concerns over the stereotypical treatment of Muslims and Islam in the West, I am surprised that there is no mention of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The theocratic policies of the ruling clerics in Iran have been as much the source of misperceptions about Islam in the West as the historical animosity of the West toward Islam. If anything, after 10 years of such rule, Iran is further away from the principles of justice, compassion, equality, and a commitment to freedom of expression and human rights.

Akbar Mahdi, Adrian, Mich.

The authors describe a number of movements around the world that promote ``Muslim identity,'' ``self-determination,'' and ``autonomy.'' These terms are used interchangeably to perfume the fact that what they all stand for is separatist treason against various nations. Ken Malpas, Fanwood, N.J.

Extolling the virtues of Islam, the authors argue that the West should understand Islam and not lump all Islamic moves as destructive fundamentalism. Certainly the world needs more and better understanding of diverse cultures. Unfortunately the authors betray a profound misconception of their own when they lump Turkey with the likes of Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

While these three countries are governed by despotic dictators for life, Turkey practices representative democracy where the citizens are fully capable of getting rid of corrupt or ineffective governments. It is a secular republic in which religion and state are meticulously separated, as in the US.

A. Sevin, Fort Washington, Md.

US and Soviet use of force Jeff Danziger's editorial cartoon, Jan. 6, is in the poorest taste in showing President Bush driving a tank labeled ``to the Gulf'' and Soviet President Gorbachev driving another tank labeled ``to Lithuania,'' the two waving at each other as they pass.

Except for the use of force, there is nothing in common in the two situations. Where the coalition (not merely the US) forces are seeking to dislodge a dictator from a pillaged country and restore its sovereignty, the Soviet tanks and troops are trying to keep an occupied country from returning to its own sovereignty.

I find Danziger's selective outrage more amusing than his cartoon.

Robert B. Henn, Fort Washington, Penn.

Thank you for having the courage to publish the wonderful cartoons by Jeff Danziger. He says more in his pictures than the many editorials being printed today on the futility of war. And he never denigrates our troops, who deserve our respect. Barbara Otwell, Carlsbad, Calif.

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