Letters from the Issue of January 15, 2009

The Truth About Islam

I found the content and timing of your January 8 edition interesting for several reasons, the first of which is the cover story by Deirdra Funcheon titled "The Agent From Iran." In this story, Iranian Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan and her husband, Mahmoud Seif, are accused of being spies for Iran. The article was filled with many of the negative stereotypes of Islam and Iran that now permeate all American discourse on the subjects. Also included in this issue was her segment covering the recent campaign in South Florida to improve Americans' understanding of Islam, using ads printed on the sides of buses. Her account of her "conversion" to Islam came across as phony, in my opinion. This is because proselytizing is forbidden in Islam. In addition, she stated that the individual offered to send her a Qur'an and a headscarf; that comes across as callow and demeaning.

Those of us who have converted have done so by actively seeking a Mosque or Masjid and doing so in front of witnesses, not over the phone. And although I cannot speak for events surrounding Funcheon's experience, I can speak to my own conversion to Islam, which occurred while serving in the Navy in Okinawa, Japan. Before converting, I was asked questions such as how I found out about Islam, what I knew of Islam, and what I hoped to learn of Islam. One month after attending services, I made my Shahada (declaration or testimony to the oneness of God) with the imam.

What I also find interesting about last week's edition was the timing of the release. As international condemnation of both Israel and the United States continues to spread throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Vatican, and South America, our media have either chosen to avoid discussion of this event or provide almost exclusive coverage from Israel or its supporters. After reading these two stories, I have to ask: What was the editor's purpose in publishing this particular edition?

Timothy Stinson

Boca Raton

Go North, Tara

The guy complaining about Tara Nieuwesteeg's writing skills doesn't know what he's talking about ("In Defense of Stained Glass," Letters, January 1). She's great. However, it would be nice if she ever dragged her ass up to Palm Beach County. If it weren't for Gail Shepherd and the calendar, New Times would be completely irrelevant to Palm Beach residents. Love it, though.

Jeff Greene

West Palm Beach

Johnny V. Doesn't Deserve This

Wow! I just read your article in New Times (Gail Shepherd, "What's in a Name?" January 8). Are you talking about Smith & Jones, the new restaurant where Louie Louie used to be? My husband and I have been back ten times since it opened, and you couldn't possibly be serious about the food. It's fabulous! They make the best Philly cheese steak that either of us has ever had. In fact, my husband is from Philly, and he told the waiter to tell the chef it should be called the Best Philly Cheese Steak in the World!

While I'm at it, that corn chowder is to die for. And the fish and chips are outstanding. We've never had a meal there that wasn't excellent.

My goodness, how could you trash a top chef like Johnny Vinczencz the way you did? You better go have you taste buds checked.

And the way you talk about the room: Shame on you. It is beautifully appointed, with old Chicago brick and mahogany wood. The bar is one of the nicest I've seen in town, and the sidewalk café is also perfect for people-watching. Have your eyes checked also!

I think it's time for you to step aside and let some new, hip foodie take over your job. Go across the street to the Floridian — you'll feel right at home. Shame on you!

Linda and Jean Wright

Fort Lauderdale

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