Letters for August 29, 2002

A whole lot of questionin’ goin’ on

Shine on:I love reading features in New Times and other alternative newspapers, and I found Eric Alan Barton's August 15 story, "So Long, Skid Row," particularly interesting.

I would like to know if y'all think that shining a light on social issues has helped alleviate the problems that you write about such as homelessness or prostitution, etc. Does public embarrassment or public awareness bring anything to fruition?

Deborah Rubinstein

San Antonio, TX

We got tune:I am a long-time reader of alternative news... coming from Dallas, I started off with the Observer and graduated to New Times when I moved to Miami. Recently relocated to Broward, I'm once again a keeper of New Times.

Is it that there truly is no music or no music following here, or do you need some help getting organized at NT? I have swallowed the hard fact that I no longer live a stone's throw from Greenville and all its guitar legacies, and Austin has gone from being a short road trip to a five-hour plane flight, but surely South Florida is not this musically deficient and/or unorganized?

I find it so frustrating that I can't grab a paper and easily find a listing of who is playing at what joint and when on a well-laid out, easy-to-read calendar.

But the Marlins schedules are easy to find, so who the hell knows, right?

Musically deprived in SoFla.

Marie Henley

via the Internet

Editor's note:Thanks for the chance to introduce our new club listings person, Marli Guzzetta. E-mail her at Marli.Guzzetta@ newtimesbpb.com. Then complain, complain, complain.

Looking for answers:I read with great interest Bob Norman's August 1 article, "The War Within." Given the importance of this topic for Americans, you are to be congratulated for publishing this important article so that neighbors in Broward and Palm Beach counties can have a calm and dispassionate forum in which to raise questions. There are too many people worldwide who are ready and willing to shed more heat than light on the topic and to misrepresent one another.

I ask you to pose some questions to our Muslim neighbors. I would hope they would respond in the same spirit to your paper.

What's the definition of a true Muslim? It seems to me that, nowadays as in some times past, there is some controversy within the Muslim community.

What is militant Islam? One image, as portrayed by the so-called fundamentalist Muslims, is that of Muslims willing not only to defend their personal beliefs but also to expand Islam by force, if necessary. These would include Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and movements in the Philippines, Indonesia, Algeria, and the Sudan. How do our Muslim neighbors and friends here in Florida feel about this?

Though Islam is called "the religion of tolerance," there are many Muslims, the great majority, I believe, who would by no means agree with coercing nonbelievers to adhere to Islam by force, much less by the threat of death. I know them to be a loving, kind, and hospitable people. The Qur'an states, "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (Sura 2:256).

What is the final word in the Qur'an? Which image, or model, of a true Muslim adheres more closely and genuinely to the ideal image of a Muslim as described in the Holy Writ of Islam? The Qur'an evidently has two teachings on this matter. There are other verses that appear later in Qur'anic writings that state: "When the sacred months are past, kill those who join other gods wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them with every kind of ambush; but if they convert and observe prayer and pay the obligatory alms, let them go their way" (Sura 9:5); and "O Prophet, strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell, an evil refuge, indeed" (Sura 9:73).

The latter writing supercedes the former. When there are apparent contradictions in the Qur'an, is it not true that there is an Islamic theological principle that states that the latter verse supercedes the former? Should we not assume that this line of reasoning would have been used last year by Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda?

Sean M. Walsh

Davie

A Hollywood proto-sphinx:After reading "The War Within," I must conclude that Rafiq Mahdi is a hateful Muslim who speaks out of both sides of his mouth. For example, he says that suicide bombers are not "viable military operations," yet he finds it "difficult to blanketly condemn suicide bombings." I guess if they were viable, he'd openly approve them. What a pragmatist!

Although we've all heard and seen Osama bin Laden on tape rejoicing about the success of his terrorists' efforts to destroy the World Trade Center, Mahdi isn't convinced that bin Laden was behind the attacks. That's like saying Yasser Arafat isn't a terrorist!

Mahdi criticizes "the Jewish occupation of Palestine," but I must remind him that, first, there is no place called Palestine and, next, that Israel won the land in defensive wars fought against, among others, the Jordanian and Egyptian armies. No so-called-Palestinians ever controlled that land. Simply, what fundamentalist radicals like Mahdi can't stand is that Jews beat the butts of Arabs in five wars!

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