Letters for August 22, 2002

Well-traveled and fundamental truth

Let's get together and feel all right:I found Bob Norman's August 1 article, "The War Within," very interesting. The Muslim fundamentalists are in the majority in backward Arabic countries. I spent two years listening to the ranting in mosques in Cairo, and before then in Qatar. You didn't need to understand Arabic to gauge the invective being hurled at "Amriki" (America).

I have never understood how the fundamentalists claim Jews and Christians are infidels. We are all "the people of the Book" and therefore infidels are surely members of those religions that are not monotheistic. And by whose authority does Hezbollah call itself "The Army of God?" I feel very sad for people like Shafayat Mohammed, who seems to want everyone to get along. I do, too, but I am realistic enough to understand that the politicization of religion has doomed that scenario.

The only place I have seen all religions living harmoniously was in Sri Lanka, but even then my driver, who was Buddhist, complained that if the Muslims gained the majority in a village, they would gradually push people out.

Until Islam accepts that we are no longer living in the Middle Ages, the gap between the East and West will only widen. Yes, in some ways Western, modern society is not beneficial. Women are increasingly treated with disrespect, and many young women are being pressured into unwanted sexual activity. But the answer is not to lock them away behind screens, wrap them head to toe in black abeyas, and prevent them from equal opportunities in education or jobs.

Thanks for an interesting article. Let's hope not too many American Muslims go off to be brainwashed by fundamentalists... for the sake of us all.

Jan Goffey

Sunrise

A Southern Sufi speaks:I rather enjoyed "The War Within." I'm a Sufi who was born in Georgia. Being raised by Bible thumpers did not affect my great love for and interest in the East. My passion is ancient Egypt, but I also love Islam. I have been in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, and almost every country in the world. When I read the sensational writings and ranting of reporters who have not stuck their big toe out of the United States, it strikes me as humorous.

I think Bob Norman tried to be fair, but let's face it! Dirt makes good copy. I lived in Egypt for almost ten years. The Egyptian people are my favorite of all the world's people. They are warm, polite, and extremely intelligent. Guess 3000 years of culture of "been there, done that" can have an effect on folks. What we have going on now is ignorance! We have greedy fanatics who want to control the moderates.

I have waged my own jihad for years against these fanatics. When I lived in Egypt, I wrote a letter directly to the terrorists, and it was published in Al Haram, the Times of the Middle East. I have a sense of humor about the fact that anyone is surprised by my works. The idea that Muslim women are weak, veiled creatures who are subservient to men is a Western concept. When I was in Egypt, I was very close to a tribe of Bedouins who own the famous Wadi Feron (mentioned in the Bible). These women were strong and courageous. They rule the roost over there!

I came to Islam by my own studies on the life of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be with him). Anyone who reads about his life cannot fail to be impressed with his gentleness, intelligence, and true spirit! Therefore, I know in my heart, that he is a true prophet. But I also know God is like a multifaceted crystal with many ways to reach the truth of that Great Spirit.

We have to ask ourselves what is motivating young people who are blowing themselves up. What we need to do is examine the root of the problem! The Palestinians have a right to their own land! In my view, Israel needs to sit down, talk, and work this out! Enough of young people taking their lives! Jews from all over the world are pouring into Israel and grabbing land. What if Native Americans got it into their heads that they "wanted back" the lands that the white man robbed them of?

I am ashamed that President Bush has not seen the problem more clearly. But then, Mr. Texas has had a life of ease compared to the poor people of Palestine!

Khadija Hammond

Pompano Beach

Mellow out on those gay guys,New Times:In regard to Rebekah Gleaves' July 18 story, "Lesbians Be Damned," I have a comment. My name is Amy McGrotty. I am an attorney and also own a motel in Fort Lauderdale, The Deauville Inn. I bring up the fact that I am an attorney because I want it to be clear that I, necessarily, have a source of revenue other than the motel. When I purchased it five years ago, I spent all my money on closing costs, etc. I gradually cleaned and renovated the property. I marketed it on a shoestring budget, and have now finally converted it to a gay hotel.

I am still marketing on a shoestring budget. I would love to offer my Inn as a lesbian-only place, but the market apparently does not exist, and advertising is very expensive. I would be in foreclosure if I counted only on lesbian support. Don't get me wrong, a significant number of lesbians stay with us and we love it! It's just not enough to pay the bills.

I do not wish to exclude anyone. I invite lesbians, gay men, transgendered people, straight people and their pets as long as they are comfortable staying at a gay-owned and -operated place. Please also note that a number of the gay motels in Broward County also welcome lesbians. I must confess that I run male ads in gay male publications. I also run some female ads in female publications when my sisters don't overcharge me.

I think the article in New Times was quite harsh and conveyed an image of fractionalization in the gay community. I am a member of the Rainbow Alliance, and my experience has been nothing but positive. The guys who organized and manage the Alliance are nice men and good businesspeople. They evidently had a dream, and they are fulfilling it. I believe that I am the only lesbian who owns a motel in Fort Lauderdale, but that is not their fault. In fact, the Alliance members and many other current and former guesthouse owners have been helpful to me in assisting me. Any lesbian who is courageous enough to spend tons of money on a lesbian motel is free to do so and be noticed.

In sum, I ask you to explore the positive options available to lesbians and not focus on the negative. I also wish to assure you that the people promoting Fort Lauderdale as a gay travel destination are doing the best they can. Please don't judge them too harshly.

Amy McGrotty, P.A.

North Miami Beach

He's on the level:I loved Bob Norman's July 11 column concerning Michael Newdow, "First Pledge." I'm finding more and more that the pious are reacting to the pledge controversy with anger and hostility. Those of us who are not Bible thumpers tend to write more level-headed articles.

Joseph F. Ragusa

Bronx, NY

He's leaning toward the Lord:To those who are upset at our patriotism of God and America: God bless America! And if you don't like to hear this, don't read the rest of this letter.

There is so much going on in the world today -- the big thing is looking for peace! Now, after 9/11, people are still afraid to fly or travel. Warnings of other attacks in this, our country, the USA, are common. So the big recent news about the pledge of allegiance "under God" is very disturbing to me. If there are folks and especially atheists who don't want to say the words "under God," then they don't have to say these words -- they are not being forced!

Yes, I was taught when I was young that this is a Christian country based on the ideas of the Founding Fathers, who were Christians. I am not Christian, but it is OK with me to live in a Christian country. No one forces me to change my religion. This is a totally free country. We have freedom of speech and are free to display banners of freedom displaying "God Bless America" on our cars, etc.

E.L. Cohen

Margate

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