History and education behind Saudi intolerance

Regarding the Jan. 8 article "How an Al Qaeda hotbed turned inhospitable": The core of the problem here in Saudi Arabia is the lack of religious tolerance. This is not true in other Muslim countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Bahrain. Turkey has a society made up of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. However, here in Saudi Arabia, you cannot practice any religion but Islam.

The educational system is riddled with anti-Christian and anti-Jewish teachings to the point where many foreign educators simply refuse to teach here. Until the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia adopts a policy of religious tolerance, they will continue to breed a basic hatred and distrust of anyone and everyone who is not a Muslim.
Adrienne McPhail
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

As an American Muslim of Pakistani heritage, I have read with interest the series on change in Saudi Arabia. While the Kingdom is finding it a slow process to turn around a way of thinking that was nurtured over several decades, it is still an easier task than the task ahead for Pakistan. Numerous Saudi and Gulf sheikhs have, over the years, sent millions of dollars to propagate their brand of jihadi Islam in places like Pakistan. The Al-Saud family in Saudi Arabia and the armed forces in Pakistan have ruled their countries as their personal fiefdoms. How far are they willing to go in encouraging critical thinking?
Danial M. Noorani
Roselle, Ill.

Campus clash of ideals

Regarding your Jan. 8 article "A bill to protect campus conservatives?": Demands for such an "academic Bill of Rights" give the lie to conservatives' professions of defending personal freedom and the right to free expression. They contradict their own decades-long attacks on "political correctness" by substituting a conformist political agenda of their own.

American colleges offer the freest and most varied system of higher education in the world. Students can choose not only most of their classes, but also the schools they attend. Pick a different class, take a different major, go to a religious college, read college guides that direct you to conservative or liberal institutions. As a 30-year veteran of the college classroom, I believe that students learn best when they are challenged by new ideas and confront staunch defenders of them.
Dennis Berthold
College Station, Texas

Churches' place in gay marriage debate

Regarding your Jan. 9 article "Gay marriage: Clergy gear for amendment battle": Religious efforts to proscribe civil rights are not "an inspirational call to arms," but rather the shrill devolution of what such movements once offered: a ministry of hope and love and justice. That ministry has brought many to America's shores - and protected others during times of intolerance. Today, the drama is being played out again: While some religious groups welcome gay people into their pews, others don't. That's their right. But that right shouldn't trump another one: the equality of America's people.
Jeff Spaulding
Lincolnville, Maine

Wall Street gives everyone 'a shot'

Regarding David Callahan's Jan 8. opinion piece "The myth of the populist stock market": Mr. Callahan used statistics to show that the populace, in general, is not benefiting from stock ownership. But I think there is another possible interpretation of these numbers. Those who consistently invest a portion of their income in common stocks tend to benefit. Wall Street does give everyone a shot at a better life, but most do not take it.
Jonathan David
San Jose, Calif.

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