Muslims' Negative Image in US Media

On the News in Brief page (April 17) appears the very discouraging statistic that acts of violence, discrimination, and harassment against Muslims in the United States have increased threefold.

My discouragement is not with the American public, but with the press and politicians in the US, who are the main factors behind resentment against Muslims. They have systematically painted Muslims as terrorists, uncivilized rogues, and anti-American. Press and television companies in the US, with rare exceptions, almost always report only evil about Muslims.

I am a Muslim-American physician who has worked in the US for more than 15 years. I and other Muslims probably will face increasing discrimination in gaining admission to medical schools, post-graduate training, and leading positions at universities and other institutions.

On Nov. 26 a Muslim-American from Palo Alto, Calif., wrote a letter to the Monitor titled "Religion, not Country, as a Home." Since then, I have been ambivalent about being a Muslim or an American first. Many a time I have asked myself why US Muslims should consider religion, not country, a home.

The silver lining is the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the all-too-rare release of its reports in the press. Perhaps future reports can get greater coverage.

Ifat A. Shah


Burma's pro-democracy forces

I would like to clarify some points about the pro-democracy struggle as described in the article "Democracy's Front Line Looks Thinner in Burma" (April 16).

The interview was conducted while we were preparing a defense against an imminent attack by several battalions of Burma Army soldiers. Because of difficulties in gaining refuge in Thailand, many civilian refugees at our camp sought protection from the Army until they could find safety elsewhere. Providing temporary security to these refugees was a tactical necessity and should not be confused with our strategic Political Defiance effort, which is strictly nonviolent in nature.

The All-Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) has been in the forefront of nonviolent struggle. We recognize that attempting to wage a military struggle against the 400,000-strong Burma Army would be futile. We are confident that Political Defiance, which has the support of our people, will end the reign of terror imposed by the military regime in Rangoon.

Moe Thee Zun


Vice Chairman, ABSDF

Revive Japan's antiwar Article 9

"How Much US Might in Asia?" (April 10) and the letter "Control of Japan's Military" (April 21) together prompt me to comment.

Rather than fill the vacuum in Japanese military relations caused by the Soviet collapse with more US troops, the US should encourage a path for Japan that (1) restores the integrity of Japan's Article 9, the world's foremost legal renunciation of war, and (2) stimulates widespread debate in Japan on its civil-military climate.

Instead of pushing Japan's elite toward security agreements that further erode Article 9, the US should encourage the millions of Japanese who seek to restore Article 9's integrity by gradually reducing the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and increasing Japan's contribution to peace and justice through nonviolent, nonmilitary means.

May 3 is the 50th anniversary of the post-war Japanese Constitution. So that more Americans can know about Article 9's words of wisdom, which the US helped to write after World War II, here they are:

"Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

"In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Charles Overby

Athens, Ohio

World War II veteran

Article 9 Society Founder

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include a mailing address and telephone number. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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