A plea to Muslims

I have been following with embarrassment and shame the case of Gillian Gibbons and her class teddy bear ("Teacher gets 15-day term in Sudan teddy-bear case," Nov. 30). My plea to my Muslim brothers and sisters is to bring a voice of reason to this madness.

The actions of the Sudanese government and people in this regard have the effect of portraying Muslims as being small-minded, overly touchy and paranoid; ready to perceive insult where none is intended; and, more dangerously, given to resolving all differences through violence. It is not Gibbons who brings shame to Islam, but the reaction of Muslims to her action.

My brothers and sisters in Islam would be better served by raising their voices against the travesty that is Darfur. A nation that encourages the genocide of its people and that allows innocent men, women and children to be massacred, is the real enemy of Islam. Gibbons is simply a well-meaning teacher who was unaware of the close-minded and ignorant environment that she had placed herself in.

Farhat Biviji

Cherry Hill

Philly Enquirer?

Who was responsible for the decision to sink The Inquirer to a new low by splashing the headline about Joe Paterno's salary across the front page ("Paterno's pay is now public: $512,664," Nov. 30). I would have had no problem with this action had you also listed the name of your paper as The Philadelphia

National Enquirer

. It would be a more fitting name in light of your tabloid-level decision regarding Paterno. And you wonder why so many major-city newspapers are losing readership?

Sidney Cohen

Mount Laurel

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Save Burholme Park

City Council members who support the takeover of Burholme Park's 19.4 acres are being swooned by big business, namely the Fox Chase Cancer Center ("A move benefiting all," Nov. 30). Promises of jobs and money being pumped into the Fairmount Park system are all attempts by this large institution to expand onto land it has no right to use.

An $800 million project consisting of 15 buildings in the middle of donated parkland is the true scenario. Once the buildings are constructed over 25 years, the outlying parkland will consist of fast-track driveways which lead onto streets that already have too much traffic for the surrounding neighborhood. The land once known as Burholme Park will become a business campus.

Don't be fooled. This land takeover is wrong. Save Burholme Park!

John P. Tracey Jr.


Signs of health

It's refreshing to learn that a simple sign alerting shoppers that "taking the stairs protects your heart" more than doubled the number who chose stairs over the escalator at a suburban mall in Coventry, England ("Taking the steps to better health," Nov. 15). The best thing is that this change took place with only a few interested researchers and a willing shopping mall. That's right: no government regulations or billion-dollar budgets.

In the battle of the bulge, health officials have proposed some radical interventions, including cupcake bans and Twinkie taxes, to no avail. But the most important changes in our lifestyle can start with a poster board and a few magic markers.

If every shopper climbed the stairs on the way to the food court, Americans could lose several extra pounds and a few unnecessary laws.

Trice Whitefield

Senior research analyst

Center for Consumer Freedom