And another angry response to Joshua Somer(Re: “The war against terrorism is a war against Islam,” 3 April 2002)September 11 has helped many realize that if the U.S. had not intervened in other people’s affairs, killing millions in the process, the innocent in the twin towers would have been saved. Joshua J. Somer fails to note in his article that the United States is not the only nation which stands on principles like capitalism, reason, freedom and modernity. Why didn’t such a barbaric attack happen in Italy? Or Switzerland? Or Canada, for that matter? I do not think this is the time or place to get into the details of the atrocities the U.S. has committed by giving arms to many nations under a license to kill.
Now, as far as the religion of Islam is concerned, “understanding” Islam means ignoring the fanaticism and reading the Koran in its true context.
The Koran quotes, “And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the sacred mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them.”
Joshua J. Somer seems to have left out a lot while quoting what he quoted. Moreover, it is stated in the Koran, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult and oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.”
Quotes such as these clarify that Islam urges Muslims to fight only in self-defence and welcomes peace with open arms.Mr. Somer has stated in his article that Islam is against individual thought and reason, but harasses and makes fun of Islam (and the Prophet) without using reason at all.
Lastly, I would like to ask: if the Oklahoma bomber had justified his murders in Jesus’ name, whom would we blame? The lunatic or the Holy Bible?Tehseen Ahmed
Letter writer gets it all wrong(Re: “A model of peaceful co-existence,” letter, 3 April 2002)Once again, Shvili has it all wrong. First, he classifies Jews as foreign and domestic when it comes to Israel. If he knew his history, assuming it went beyond 100 years, he would know we all came from the same place, the land of Israel (Israel is the name of Jacob, whom all Jews are decendants of). All Jews have ancestors who were exiled to other lands, including Shvili. Shvili’s ancestors just got back a lot sooner than other Jews’ (my mother’s passport shows “Palestinian,” too), many of whom had to endure the Holocaust. This is another reason why the Jews should have their own land—they’re not really welcome anywhere else. Just look at all the anti-Semitism out there. If we listen to Shvili, we would have to conclude that the Jews aren’t truly at home anywhere, especially in their ancestral homeland, unless their relatives were there seven generations ago.
As for the Zionists ignoring the Arabs and the Jews who didn’t want them there, these arguments are also filled with ignorance. I would point to Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which supports the partition of two states west of the Jordan and grants equal citizenship to the Arabs if they would live in peace with the Jews in the State of Israel. Many Arabs have chosen to live by the second condition and many are quite wealthy. Their GDP per capita is higher than in Arab league states. Arab MKs frequently hold the balance of power in the legislative assembly and most signs are trilingual (Hebrew, Arab and English) in Israel. Arab is taught in all Israeli schools. If that is not tolerance, I don’t know what is.
What’s more, Israel is now thriving thanks to the building efforts of those early Zionists who envisioned a glorious state of Israel. In large, they have succeeded. Israel was a swamp and desert wasteland before the new wave of immigrants came in. It is now the most vibrant state in the Middle East.Doron Berger
Misrepresenting Renée Ferguson(Re: “Students protest Israeli occupation,” 8 April 2002)I was disappointed and hurt when I opened the Varsity on Monday afternoon to see that my reasons for attending the rally in front of the Israeli consulate were misrepresented by Ms. Little and reduced to post-September 11 jargon. It’s true, I am concerned with the popular political rhetoric of constructing the “political enemy” as a terrorist since September 11. However, my point was that the violence we have seen in the Middle East is similar to that in Colombia, Zimbabwe and many other places on the map in that it cannot be reduced to the simplicity of terrorism. This is violence that occurs when neo-imperialism, legacies of colonialism and racialization of communities of peoples deny them land, humanity and rights. When I spoke to Ms. Little, I thought I had made myself clear. I ask that the Varsity try harder to represent people more accurately in their stories, as these mistakes can cause damage and misunderstanding when we are working toward peace and understanding.Renée Ferguson
Contrast with radical environmentalists like David Suzuki(Re: “Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye,” 3 April 2002)Kudos to Jeremy Nelson for his refreshing perspective on global warming. The subtitle said it best—it’s “not about saving the earth, it’s about saving ourselves.”
Progressive Conservatives—like myself and Joe Clark—who support the Kyoto Pact do so because of our duty to not deny future generations in Canada and elsewhere the liveable planet we enjoy. An irresponsible attitude toward the environment is morally equivalent to government deficit spending—sending a bill to the unborn for our own profligacy.
This position contrasts sharply with that adopted by more radical environmentalists.
David Suzuki, for example, seems to attach a pseudo-spiritual dimension to the question. In his Convocation Hall speech last week, he took a very absolutist view, suggesting that disposing of our waste in the world around us—as all animals do—is categorically wrong. Nor did he give much recognition to the economic costs of radical environmentalism.
Ultimately, we don’t need any sort of spiritual attunement to the earth to support Kyoto and other moderate, scientifically sound environmental measures. Just a bit of foresight and an instinct for self-preservation.Noel Semple
Statement and apology
On April 3 of this year, the Varsity published an extremely provocative opinions article entitled “The war against terrorism is a war against Islam.” Many students on campus have expressed grave concerns about this article. As such, the Varsity has decided to make a public statement regarding this article and the concerns it has given rise to within the community.
Firstly, guest editorials—such as the one in question—published by the Varsity do not necessarily reflect the views of the collective staff and masthead. There is a clearly marked editorial in every issue of the Varsity in which the newspaper’s collective editorial stance is reflected, entirely separate from the individual opinion pieces published in their own section of the paper.
Secondly, the Varsity recognizes that a number of statements and arguments contained in the article were hurtful and based on an out-of-context and/or inaccurate interpretation of Koran and Islam.
We extend our sincerest apologies. The decision to publish this article was at best in poor taste and at worst disrespectful to a significant number of students.
Thirdly, the Varsity has put in place a more thorough and incisive vetting process for opinion articles to ensure such concerns do not arise again.

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