- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Islam at 'war' with Judaism, Christianity

In her Oct. 11 column, "A terrifying contradiction," Suzanne Fields rightly urges us not to avoid the reality of the motivation behind the Sept. 11 attacks. But perhaps she sidesteps as do our national leaders assigning the true basis of the terrorist fringe of Islam to that religion's very beginnings; these came much from the edge of swords and the blood of non-Muslims.

Even now as we seek convenient coalitions with countries that persecute and kill Christians and Jews and severely oppress their own Islamic brethren I think we are culturally hesitant to call this decades-long Islamic-based terror what it is: a war of Islam vs. Christianity, Judaism and other things that are not Islamic.

I pray that I am wrong, but I see or hear nothing to refute this.


C. KENNA AMOS JR.

Raleigh, N.C.

Readers praise, criticize editorial on fire department radio problems

Thank you for your Oct. 14 editorial "Dead zones, real problems," which concisely addressed the radio communications problems within the D.C. fire department (and elsewhere in the United States).

Corporate interests have won out once again over safety. Moving public-safety radio frequencies higher in bandwidth to the 800 MHz area of the spectrum simply paves the way for more profits while ensuring the loss of safety for people whose lives depend upon always-reliable communications.

Public-safety departments nationwide are being sold a bill of goods in the name of communications enhancement. Unfortunately, the only things being enhanced are the coffers of communications firms and, possibly, the pockets of the individuals in government who approve such ill-conceived, overengineered, underbudgeted communications projects.


MARK BAJEK

Westland, Mich.




I have always considered The Washington Times a source of truth in today's media, so I was especially stunned to see so many inaccuracies in the Oct. 14 editorial "Dead zones, real problems."

It is correct that firefighters, as well as all public-safety personnel, need the best tools and resources available, especially in communications. Unfortunately, most of the editorial was based on incorrect information. Using incorrect information to try to remedy the problem will just make the situation much worse.

First of all, the Federal Communications Commission is not moving public-safety users from the VHF to 800 MHz frequencies in order to "make room on the lower frequencies for more cell-phone traffic." The fact of the matter is that those VHF frequencies are so hopelessly overcrowded and interference-prone that they cannot carry the amount of radio traffic required in modern public-safety operations. Whether it is a hazardous-material incident for firefighters, a hostage situation for police or any other incident, VHF simply does not have the capacity to handle the situation. Cell-phone use on VHF simply is not practical on these frequencies for the same reasons.

Second, 800 MHz frequencies penetrate buildings very well, usually much better than VHF frequencies do. Without going into an elaborate physics discussion, I'll just say that the editorial's assertion that "firefighters' radios don't work in so many places that they are often resorting to their personal cell phones" indicates the problem is not in the choice of frequencies. Cell phones use 800 MHz frequencies, in a band adjacent to the public-safety band at 800 MHz. In addition, hand-held cell phones use only about one-tenth the transmitter power that a typical public-safety portable radio uses. Clearly, the problem is not in the choice of the 800 MHz frequencies.

On the surface, it seems to me that the system is not designed properly. Whether because of errors, inexperience or the desire to cut costs by cutting corners (by either the city or the system provider), the system design no doubt has serious shortcomings. There is no excuse for an 800 MHz radio system not to provide equal or better coverage than the system it replaces. Numerous 800 MHz radio systems have been in operation in cities around the country for at least 20 years. This not brand-new, unproven technology.

I would be the first to agree with you that public-safety radio systems need to be as close to perfect as humanly possible, and I agree that this is a dangerous situation that needs to be corrected immediately. However, choosing the wrong solution based on wrong information to try to correct the situation is no solution.


BILL SPRINGER

Lee, Ill.

Readers respond to article on Muslim view of afterlife

I am writing to commend you for your Oct. 16 article "Wine, women: Muslims see afterlife filled with pleasure." The article did an excellent job of highlighting popular Muslim beliefs regarding the hereafter.

However, I need to point out that the Hadith are prophetic traditions supposedly based on the sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad not on Koranic commentaries as stated in your article. Even more important is that the Hadith were compiled hundreds of years after the prophet's death. Much of the Hadith literature is based on social conditions, politics, common cultural beliefs and practices. These Hadith form the basis for much of the imagery about the afterlife depicted in your article.

It is regrettable that the "scholars of Islam" interviewed by The Washington Times neglected to emphasize the difference. Muslims worldwide believe that the Koran is the untainted word of God, and the Hadith are in no way comparable (although some Muslims may argue to the contrary). In fact, many Hadith contradict the Koran and each other. According to the Koran, life is uncomplicated, whereas many of the Hadith are embellished stories that have no place in Islam. The result is the decadence and outdated ideology that is prevalent in the Muslim world today, some of which you noted in your article.


ABDUL H. MANRAJ

Herndon




Thank you for sharing the fruits of your curiosity about the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorism. Unfortunately, I am afraid you project a highly romanticized and salacious interpretation of religious motivation in the Muslim faith.

In my lifetime of familiarity with flesh-and-blood Muslims, I have never encountered the mentality you describe in Julia Duin's article "Wine, women: Muslims see afterlife filled with pleasure." Islam does indeed share a notion of paradise with Christianity and other religions as a reward for good behavior. Islam likewise describes the torments of perdition for those who commit evil and are judged by God to be worthless.

The slaughter of innocent civilians on Sept. 11 was an atrocious act that only a sociopath could condone. No responsible religious figure has sanctioned such behavior.


SAID NUSEIBEH

San Francisco




Julia Duin attempts in her article "Wine, women: Muslims see afterlife filled with pleasure" to argue that Muslims, motivated by sexual fantasies about the hereafter, will commit suicide bombings against non-Muslims. This is prejudicial to the truth. Islam prohibits suicide and respects the sanctity of life. Islam does not condone suicide. It certainly forbids its use as an instrument to kill other people.

When people believe in a cause, they sometimes are willing to die for it. The young American men who stormed Omaha Beach in 1944 did not expect to live very long. They willingly sacrificed their lives for others and for the freedom of France and Europe from the Nazis. The Palestinians have been fighting Israeli occupation for 35 years. Palestinian young men don't want to die. They don't want to kill. There is a political and social context in which people have been driven to the edge as a result of bulldozed homes, unemployment, excessive taxation and assassinations. Those young men have no hope and are radicalized by misery and poverty.

Denigrating Islam and demonizing Arabs and Muslims will not make sense of what happened on Sept. 11. The heinous crimes of that day can never be justified. Punishing those who planned the attacks and protecting ourselves from further attacks must be done. In the long term, however, prevention is the best weapon against terrorism. Prevention can be achieved by eliminating the root causes of the problem. Only when you relate to the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims as your brothers in humanity will you see that terrorism is nurtured by injustices and economic hardships not by religion or culture.


ALI EL-AGHA

Allentown, Pa.

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