- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

Farrakhan is not a mainstream Muslim

Your Oct. 23 editorial "The same old Farrakhan" falsely states that Louis Farrakhan heads the largest American Muslim group in the nation. The followers of his heretical group, the Nation of Islam, number no more than 20,000, whereas orthodox Muslims number more than 6 million. This year's annual conference of the most prominent mainstream American Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), attracted close to 35,000 attendees. Therefore, Mr. Farrakhan and his group attract a disproportionate amount of news coverage, and media agencies should refrain from responding to his desperate calls for attention. Mr. Farrakhan has no legitimacy in the mainstream Muslim community, as his racist and anti-Semitic ideology violates the egalitarian and tolerant precepts of Islam.

ARIF RAFIQ
Greenvale, N.Y.

Kuwait does not endorse suicide bombings

Kuwait is an active participant in the campaign against terror. In the immediate aftermath of last month's atrocities, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmed unequivocally stated that Kuwait is giving support to the United States "both politically and in everything the United States requests. America is Kuwait's ally, and we in Kuwait do not forget our ally." He was among the first foreign ministers to issue such a statement.
Sheik Sabah, like all Kuwaitis, was horrified by the suicide attacks that brought devastation to the U.S. soil. Since that time, Kuwait has supported the effort by, among other things, sharing intelligence, investigating alleged money laundering, promoting coalition interests in international and regional multilateral organizations, and, starting this week, sending aid to Afghan refugees.
Now your Oct. 21 editorial "The U.S. and the Muslim world" claims that the foreign minister believes suicide bombing is a legitimate form of struggle for Palestinians. This is simply untrue, as Sheik Sabah made plain when he clarified a statement that was taken out of context.
He said, "It is unfortunate my statement was understood as if we support those who bomb and kill. I want to affirm that we in Kuwait do not support this style: We tasted the bitterness of such attacks with the hijacking of our airplane and the killing of our children and loved ones." (In the 1980s, several Kuwaiti planes were hijacked, and terrorists struck many times, including attacks against the country's leader.) Kuwait tastes bitterness again as it shares in America's grief.

TAREQ AL-MEZREM
Media attache
Kuwait Information Office
Washington

When tampering with nature is a good thing

The announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that Bt corn "is not a threat to either the environment or the people who ultimately consume it" is, indeed, a victory for "good science and reason" ("Kudos to the EPA," Oct. 19).
Genetic engineering will open the door to a whole new generation of technologies capable of providing vast quantities of safer and more affordable food to a growing and hungry world. We should no more fear the advent of biotechnology than we should have feared the introduction of pasteurization, refrigeration or microwave ovens in food storage and preparation.
Biotechnology has demonstrated its promise. For example, the Rockefeller Foundation's golden rice project developed genetically altered rice containing beta carotene which readily converts to vitamin A and new genes to overcome vitamin deficiency. Golden rice is already preventing thousands of cases of childhood blindness and reducing the amount of anemia suffered by more than 2 billion women in rice-dependent countries. It is estimated that about 250 million children worldwide are at risk for blindness because of a vitamin deficiency.
The dangers of starvation and malnutrition around the world are real enough without conjuring up imaginary and unfounded fears. Dennis Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, estimates that with bioengineered agricultural products, we could increase food production threefold without increasing the amount of acreage under cultivation.
Fears of bioengineered food ignore the fact that virtually everything we already eat is the product of man's handiwork. The difference is that plants and animals formerly were crossbred the old-fashioned way, with the intent to get desired results via an accidental gene combination. Long before we were born, farmers were manipulating seeds to create more robust plants and ranchers were selecting the best bulls to mate with their cows.
Turning our back on lifesaving, welfare-enhancing bioengineered products when there is ample evidence of the ills they can prevent and little or no evidence of any threat would be to condemn millions of people irresponsibly to unnecessary suffering and early deaths.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI
Chicago

How serious is the U.S. about finding bin Laden?

Jalaluddin Haqqani, Taliban military commander in chief, said in a statement released while on a trip to Pakistan: "Osama bin Laden and his companions are living in complete safety. No harm has come to them [from U.S. bombing attacks]." Pakistani media reports have said Haqqani has special responsibility for the security of bin Laden. Haqqani issued his statement Oct. 21 in Pakistan through the Afghan Defense Council, a coalition of Pakistani Islamic parties. Haqqani also said the Taliban still considered bin Laden as its guest and a "hero of Islam" and that it would never hand him over to any country.
Haqqani was in Pakistan for three days last week and met Pakistani officials. If there is one person who would know how to get bin Laden, it surely would be Haqqani. He is in charge of security for bin Laden.
To capture bin Laden as soon as possible and reduce U.S. war casualties, shouldn't the United States have asked Pakistan to apprehend Haqqani and turn him over for questioning? If Pakistan is sincere about fighting terrorism, it surely would have cooperated with such a request. Furthermore, Pakistan wants to end U.S. attacks on Afghanistan as soon as possible, before the Muslim Ramadan holy month begins in November.
Why such an option was not explored by State Department geniuses is anybody's guess. Does the United States want the hunt for bin Laden to drag on, with more possible U.S. casualties? If not, we should have asked Pakistan to apprehend Haqqani and turn him over to the United States for questioning. The United States even could have held Haqqani hostage, conditioning his release on the surrender of bin Laden.

SURESH M. SHETH
Irvine, Calif.

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