Muslims deserve better representation

Muslims should be recognized and celebrated no less than any other Philadelphians. But the central role of Abdul Rahim-Muhammad and his ICPIC New Africa Center in organizing the annual Islamic Heritage Festival, supported by Peco Energy Co. and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, is alarming ("Islamic heritage celebrated at Philadelphia festival," June 12).

Rahim-Muhammad's museum has displayed artwork that asks, "Which will survive the war of Armageddon?" One side is labeled "Christianity," followed by the U.S. flag and the words "slavery," "suffering," and "death." The other is labeled "Islam," followed by a Nation of Islam-style flag and the words "freedom," "justice," and "equality."

The illustration belies what Rahim-Muhammad told The Inquirer: "The principles that govern this nation are already principles that are adhered to in our faith. . . . We don't see a conflict."

Muslims deserve better than to be represented by those who sow division while pretending to stand for tolerance.

David J. Rusin

Director, Islamist Watch

Middle East Forum


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A single example proves nothing

A letter on June 14 ("An Israeli mayor and Arabs' rights") attempts to establish that Israel treats its Arab population with the worst kind of unfairness by citing some unfortunate things said by a mayor in a town in Israel. One mayor in one town. Does this tell us anything about Israel?

Some months ago, The Inquirer had several stories about the doings in the courts of a city (Scranton) where a judge (Mark Ciavarella) was sentencing youths to long prison terms so that he might profit from a deal with the local private prison company. One judge in one town. Does this tell us anything about America?

David Perelman

Lafayette Hill

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Trade agreements: Who benefits?

It is disconcerting that Washington insists on pushing free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea ("Why jobs keep vanishing," Sunday).

Such agreements only benefit corporate profits and severely devastate the poor and ordinary workers here as well as in the countries with which such agreements are made.

I spent more than 40 years in Latin America working with the poor. I have a sad memory of shopping in an open market in Peru, where potatoes of many, many varieties have been cultivated as the staff of life for centuries, and there I was offered large, pale Idaho potatoes at a price far below that of the native potatoes.

Potatoes grown on hillsides using animals to pull the plows are of course more expensive. But they are the source of livelihood not only for the farmer, but for the tradespeople along the path to the market.

The North American Free Trade Agreement brings other problems. Statistics show Colombia has had more union murders in 2010 than the rest of the world combined. We do not need more agreements of the free-trade model that put corporate profits before national traditions, workers, and the environment.

Sister Nina Fritsch


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Parenting book reflects low values

An article on June 14, "Foul and phenomenal," illustrates how low the levels of American cultural values have become.

Nothing any human can accomplish is greater than being a good parent. Because we are human, none of us will be perfect parents. Some are just "good enough." Others fail, and their children suffer terrible consequences.

I was born in 1935, and "habitual coddling" was then "an issue." Infants were placed in cribs with bottle holders because too much cuddling could "spoil" the baby.

Decades later, a book called The Rights of Infants explained that human brains are hardwired for violence, but that love must be taught. It is during infancy and early childhood that parents teach children how to love. We teach our children how to love people, including themselves, and how to love knowledge and culture.

During the 1960s, popular music seduced American youth away from classical traditions that required knowledge that had been passed down through generations. The shout went out that "Art is dead, let's go back to zero!" Culture was under attack.

Now we seem to have reached that cultural zero-point, when a man "profoundly influenced by hip-hop" brags about "knocking out" a book about wanting his child to "go the f- to sleep." We are told the book - a best-seller - "fits into a recent wave of parenting books that acknowledge habitual coddling as an issue."

Excuse me. I feel I am about to be sick.

Joyce Harris Mayer


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Peace marches now are ignored

A letter on Friday ("Same old things, different reaction") asks, "Where are the peace marches?"

Peace marches and demonstrations occur just about every week in Philadelphia and Washington, but the media reaction has been largely to ignore them.

On June 30, at Rittenhouse Square, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of our work for peace. Those who come to 18th and Walnut Streets will see that the peace movement is alive and well.

Gloria Hoffman