Freedom of religion includes head scarves

Regarding your Oct. 28 article "Turks tangled in politics of scarves": The Turkish government's position on wearing head scarves is one of utter hypocrisy.

The ruling government believes that openly displaying one's adherence to Islam is socially backward and strengthens the political cause of fundamentalists, yet it is supposedly the only secular democracy in the Muslim world and should include the ability to express oneself freely.

Prime Minister Ecevit's fractured administration believes it is acceptable to control what women can wear in schools, public universities, and government offices. Yet it fears that if a Muslim political party such as the very popular AKP comes into power, imposed social limitations will be inevitable.

Turkey must figure out once and for all how to strike a balance between democratic secularism and Islamic culture and values.

For now, the government engages in the same tactics it criticizes in its political opponents. Banning any type of personal expression for religious or political reasons is wrong, but to do so in a supposedly free society demonstrates just how much the Turkish government knows about democracy.
Areg G. Bagdasarian
Weston, Mass.

In response to "Turks tangled in politics of scarves": I wish the Monitor had asked Turkish interviewees why such a question regarding head scarves should even be considered in a democratic society.

The most successful democracies in the world have made separation of church and state one of the most inviolable laws of the land. Yet democracies are facing religious attempts to impose behavior on the rest of the world through threats, violence, and political intrusion.

Government is an association of people who must compromise with each other to maintain the law of the land. Beyond that order lies chaos, induced by religion because the nature of all religions is absolute and uncompromising. Religion divides while democracy unites.
William D. Grazier
Duluth, Minn.

Teaching martyrdom through murder

Regarding "Families mourn loves, not heroes, on Israeli retreat": You offer a well- informed look at the pain family members go through upon the loss of a loved one to an act of terror.

However, you write that Israeli families of victims are "encouraged" to see their murdered children as martyrs. But it is Arab children who are taught that dying while killing Jews makes one a hero and martyr; this is the most sickening and perverted form of child abuse, and the distinction should be made clear.
Elliot Horowitz
New York

Gould's influence endures

Regarding your Oct. 21 article "On his 60th anniversary, all that glitters is Gould": The Home Forum's John Gould answers his readers' queries with a brief note, always to the point, and includes an autobiographical sketch of himself, done with a few quick strokes of the pen. His responses come in envelopes that have been used before. His two replies to me are treasured mementos.

Mr. Gould's cousin, Ralph Moody, came west to Littleton, Colo., as a boy, and later wrote a series of autobiographies and a book about spending the summer with Grampy in Maine. These two authors' works were included in the many books we read aloud to our sons on the long drive to and from church each Sunday – and through their stories the boys absorbed fine morals, principles, wit, and keen observation in a most enjoyable way. I have always felt the cousins helped raise our children. Thank you, John. Your family is our family.

Tina Wynecoop
Colbert, Wash.

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