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Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
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Bin Laden not a Shiite Muslim, but a Sunni Muslim

This is just a correction to Nathan Brown's assertion that Osama bin Laden is a Shiite Muslim. From what I understand, bin Laden is in fact a Sunni Muslim, albeit an extremist one (kind of like what the Klu Klux Klan was/is to Christianity).

Mr. Brown was right, however, in that the alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida is utterly ridiculous. It is utterly ridiculous because Hussein ran a secular state in Iraq. That is, church and state were separated under Hussein. Tariq Aziz, Hussein's former spokesperson, is a Christian. Because of Hussein's secularism, bin Laden considered Hussein an infidel.

It is alarming that so many Americans believe that there was any link between Hussein and al Qaida. This is despite the bipartisan commission that said there was absolutely no meaningful link, and President Bush's statement that he never claimed there was any such link. All evidence points against any link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida.

If you support Bush because of this misguided belief, you need to reconsider in the light of evidence.

Patrick Bolger
second language acquisition and teaching graduate student

Bin Laden considered an 'extremist' Sunni Muslim

Since Mr. Brown in his letter to the editor in yesterday's Daily Wildcat seems to be well aware of his "facts," let's make a few things clear.

One, Osama bin Laden is far from being a Shiite Muslim. In fact, bin Laden still identifies himself as a Sunni, although many Sunni Muslims will argue that he is has deviated too far from this sect of Islam.

Two, saying Iraq - or Iraq under Saddam in this case - was also Sunni ignores a large percentage of the population. The majority of Iraqis identify themselves as Shiite Muslim, with the Sunni Muslim and Christian populace making up a smaller percentage.

During Saddam Hussein's time in power, he oversaw the country with a small but influential alignment of Sunni Muslim officials called the Baath party that advocated a secular, socialist/nationalist type of pan-Arab government to counter Western influence in the Middle East.

While he and Osama bin Laden may have had differing beliefs, the repression of Shiites under Saddam would have been in line with bin Laden's radical ideas against the same group.

I would encourage Mr. Brown to consider taking a course in Near Eastern Studies or talking with a Muslim classmate so as to get his facts straight.

Finally, I don't profess to know a lot about law, but tossing a pie at a speaker during a political speech can be construed as assault in this context. As far as I know, assault is the threat of violence to another person. This type of action is bad mainly because it is meant to inspire fear in the one receiving the action.

Sure, many of us may have laughed upon hearing about a "pieing" of Ann Coulter (including Coulter herself, along with a fair number of conservatives), but to endorse anyone for committing violence is absurd.

We may not all agree with Ms. Coulter's viewpoints, but pieing her to bring her back to reality sounds suspiciously like one more form of repression. If he really wants to do something for the greater good, Mr. Brown could take a page from the Young Democrats, who peacefully protested outside Coulter's speech, or go vote on November 2nd.

Eric McCoy
senior majoring in Spanish and Near Eastern Studies

Knowledge and education not the same thing

This is in response to George Corcoran's letter in Monday's mailbag. Ann Coulter may have "studied" and "learned" things that we may have never considered - but then, knowledge is one thing, education is another. I would like to listen to conservative opinion, but hers seems to be an ideology that is based on intolerance, xenophobia and racism. How can I be "open-minded" and give her opinions a chance to influence me?

While equating Islam to terrorism and justifying the invasion of Iraq, she seems to be completely oblivious of third-world sensitivities. While she has had a successful career giving colorful speeches, collecting fat paychecks and signing book deals, she has no idea about the ground situation in a third-world country. Does she even care about what it means to go hungry due to lack of food, or spend the nights out in the cold because houses were razed to the ground in the war, or to see innocent civilians killed in the crossfire (The Brookings Institute put the toll of Iraq civilian casualties between 11,400 and 22,200 April 30, 2003 and July 30, 2004)? Would she accept it if the quality of her life were shattered by the daily violence and bombings? If she wouldn't, then the people of Iraq shouldn't be any different. Perhaps it's time to take note of the things she takes for granted.

I am reminded of Mahatma Gandhi's saying: "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

So did her education do any good to her and the rest of us? I don't think so.

Palani Sundaramurthy
electrical and computer engineering graduate student

No-weapons rule does not protect UA students

This is appalling. The university has a responsibility to teach students the difference between (martial) art and violence. I know that Wolfgang Landkamer is the most non-violent person there could be. I have met him, as he resided in the same dorm as my son. I have seen him working with his tools out on the lawn. It is obvious that his homemade nunchucks are an artistic tool, not a weapon. They looked about as dangerous as the skip balls we played with as children. He was playing alone.

The university has to show students that they can trust their authority figures. The dean must be open to evaluating cases like this on a fair and individual level. There was no violence involved in this case.

The coaches and department heads for the Aikido and Wushu clubs must be held accountable. It is their job to train these students and to make them aware that although they use the tools in the clubs, they are illegal in the dorms. What is the student to do? Bury the chopsticks and nunchucks outside in the lawn so as not to break the rules?

I know that Wolfgang was not kicked out of college, just out of the residence halls. These students are left to sleep on the streets. They have paid their residence fees and have no money to rent apartments. The No-Weapons rule is supposed to protect the students. The university has put Wolfgang and the others' lives in danger, not the other way around.

I would like to make a plea to the dean and Jim Van Arsdel to reconsider the decision. As a parent of a freshman, I am no longer sure that I have put my student in safe hands.

Kathleen Whaley
parent of freshman student

Coulter's visit alienates UA Muslim community

On behalf of the Muslim Students Association of the University of Arizona, I would like to voice our opposition to the

university's lack of consideration towards its students' religious beliefs when inviting speakers to its campus. Universities are the center of intellect and higher education, and, as such, one would think that ignorant, racial comments would not be tolerated within it s walls.

However, the UA did just the opposite last Thursday when Ann Coulter was invited by the College Republicans to speak on behalf of her political views.

As Muslim Americans, we value every individual's right to free speech and opinion. However, when any individual expresses bigoted and racist opinions, it is then our right to correct them and question the authority that would allow it. Ann Coulter has been quoted several times as having intolerant and hateful views toward Muslims.

For example, in her commentary on the film "The Passion of the Christ," Coulter said, "Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity (as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of 'kill everyone who doesn't smell bad and doesn't answer to the name Mohammed')."

Coulter has a history of making several other hateful comments attacking Muslims. Immediately after the 9/11 terrorist tragedy, she was quoted as saying, "We should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." The Guardian quoted her as calling Middle Easterners camel-riding nomads with an aversion to bathing. The list goes on. Coulter's history of making anti-Islamic remarks only preaches intolerance and racism. It is our firm belief that hate speech eventually leads to hate crimes, and it ought to be condemned wherever and whenever it occurs.

Overt racism and Islamophobia should not be tolerated by any learning institution, especially one that credits itself by celebrating diversity. Muslims from around the globe have flocked to the UA not only for its educational benefits, but for its ethnic and religious tolerance as well.

Ann Coulter's visit sends the wrong message to international students, Muslim Americans, the Islamic Community in Tucson, Middle Easterners, and all people who value human equality and civil rights.

Yusra Tekbali
journalism and marketing sophomore

UA sanctions racist and bigoted events

No one supports the doctrine of free speech more than the American Civil Liberities Union, of which I am a member. No one supports the free passage of ideas and concepts more than someone who believes in the philosophies of Voltaire and Jefferson, which I do.

However, the University of Arizona, in the attempts to keep free speech avenues open, has sanctioned racist and bigoted displays and event. I will bring up two such displays.

The College Republicans, in the fall 2004 semester, hosted a racist bake sale in which the reasoning for the event was to show their opposition for affirmative action programs.

On Sept. 24, 2003, at Southern Methodist University, this display was put on by their College Republicans, but a black student filed a complaint with SMU, saying the sale was offensive. SMU officials said they halted the event after 45 minutes because it created a potentially unsafe situation.

"This was not an issue about free speech," Tim Moore, director of the SMU student center, said in a story for The Dallas Morning News. "It was really an issue where we had a hostile environment being created."

This is how intelligent college officials deal with racists. However, the UA just sat back and passively did nothing, offering silent consent to hate speech.

Secondly, last week, a group of students ran a daylong anti-Semitic display on the UA Mall, equating the situation in Israel to apartheid. When I approached to offer a differing point of view, I was met with anti-Semitic slurs and hate-filled speech. This display was a way to showcase neo-Jew bashing, not to give a differing opinion. Their diatribes were littered with four-letter words and hate speech.

Since the university condones race-baiting and Jew-bashing, maybe a white-supremacist rally is just what is needed to impose some kind of responsibility on the right of free speech. Since rights are not absolute in the United States, the university needs to temper free speech with good judgment. Alas, good judgment can never be found in bureaucratic institutions. And the UA is a bureaucracy like none other.

Aram S. Katz
political science senior

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