Islam is peaceful, but hardship can breed fanaticism
As an American-Muslim, I am writing in response to Tony Perkins's March 24 Opinion piece, "Religious freedom Afghan-style is no freedom." I wish to express my support for the points Mr. Perkins made about the criminal lawsuit raised in Afghanistan because of one citizen's religious conversion from Islam to Christianity.
Islam requires Muslims to cooperate, coexist, befriend, and respect people of other religions. Freedom to choose and practice religion is very important to us and specifically mentioned in the Koran. The holy book mentions two specific lines: (1) There is no compulsion in religion, and (2) The prophet Muhammad was to remind people of God's message, and not to control them.
The issue in Afghanistan is an issue of fanaticism, probably stemming from the hardships Afghans have endured for the past 30 years. And it is unrealistic to think that because of the war there and the removal of the Taliban that people's minds and hearts will change. Freedom in Afghanistan will take a long time to take root, and there is no guarantee that it will.
Tinley Park, Ill.
Regarding your March 23 editorial, "Vive la France! Vive le 'joblessness'?": The French university students protesting the new jobs law are protesting subjecting themselves to competition. As many immigrants and their children and grandchildren cannot afford to attend universities or don't have the education to attend, the present system consigns them to permanent unemployment.
Knowing they will be stuck with employees, employers are very cautious with their hiring, so they tend to hire those with proven skills - in other words, university graduates. Two years on the job would not lead to "throw away" employment, unless the people being "thrown away" were privileged university graduates who would have hid behind the job security law to mask incompetence. It seems fitting that the marches against the new flexible law have turned violent; that is France's future if it keeps its "social model," which is really a model of social privilege for a particular social class.
Your March 22 editorial, "Opening the tap for a thirsty planet," signaled that the Fourth World Water Forum is perhaps a "watershed moment for finding solutions." Such plaudits may be overreaching and are premature, especially since the forum still refuses to accept water as a human right.
Yet there is some promise to be found in a shift of tone at the gathering that has allowed for a more inclusive debate regarding public vs. private ownership of water utilities. This stands in contrast to the endorsement of privatization that reigned at the three previous water forums. This change in mood was echoed outside the forum, where protestors in Mexico City voiced their opposition to the wave of privatization that was a hallmark of the developing world in the 1990s.
While big players, such as the World Bank, remain unwilling to totally abandon their advocacy of water privatization, many have acquiesced to the realization that it has not been the solution that was once so confidently promised. This changing tide can be seen in the recent cancellation of Buenos Aires's once lauded contract with Aguas Argentinas, a subsidiary of Suez, a France-based industrial and services company.
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
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