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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the Muslim Brotherhood's program, US-Taiwan relations, and gratitude for a Marine gunner.

Skepticism about the Muslim Brotherhood's program

In response to Mohamed Elmenshawy's Oct. 12 Opinion piece, "The Muslim Brotherhood shows its true colors": I strongly agree with Mr. Elmenshawy.

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The Muslim Brotherhood's current political program will give Egypt an authoritarian, illiberal, failed political system that does not allow for dissent or strong minority protection and inclusion.

It is partly correct to call violent Islamists "Islamofascists," because radical Islamism has many of the features of long-discredited authoritarian and repressive regimes of years past – left-wing, as well as right-wing repressive regimes.

Sadly, if the Brotherhood were in power, it would also have a monopoly on violence to impose an illiberal and outdated value system on the populace.

More important, the Brotherhood would not even deliver good government. Its ideology does not have well-developed operational principles of checks and balances.

What the Brotherhood promises Egypt is not only illiberal government, but bad government, as well.


Regarding Mohamed Elmenshawy's Oct. 12 Opinion piece, Mr. Elmenshawy reflects on the "true color" of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt without reference to an aspect of Islam that is at the heart of the issue; this is the mandate that every Muslim obey the prophet Muhammad's teachings and heed those of religious leaders. That contradicts every theory on the foundations of democracy, which instead requires "subservience" to a Constitution and a nation's laws.

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Albert Einstein defined democracy as a stage whereon no human being needs to humble himself to another – this simply does not hold true in conservative Islam. Obviously, conservative Islam and democracy are inversely related.

The only way Islamic countries can move toward democracy is by upholding the supremacy of a nation's Constitution.

Empirical evidence suggests this to be true: Countries and social segments that deviate from the strictest interpretations of Islam have leaned more toward democratic values and/or toward assimilation of Muslims into the mainstream populations, whether they be American, British, Dutch, Indonesian, Indian, or Pakistani.


US-Taiwan relations decline

Regarding your Oct. 12 editorial, "The bully in China's shop": It rightly observes that China's counterproductive approach toward Taiwan – through military intimidation, diplomatic isolation, and political machinations – has alienated the people that are called "compatriots" and contributed to rising Taiwanese identity.

While China's rigidity is unsurprising, America's complicity – which is seen whenever China complains that Washington pressures Taiwan – is disappointingly hypocritical. The US is partially responsible for Taiwan's ambiguous status and diplomatic limbo.

The Bush administration reportedly has delayed the sale of F-16 fighters to Taiwan, which allows the US to maintain a good relationship with Beijing. This clearly violates the Taiwan Relations Act and President Reagan's Six Assurances regarding Taiwan's legitimate self-defense needs.

US actions have caused strain in the historically close US-Taiwan relations.


Grateful for the gunner

I appreciate the Oct. 16 article, "In Iraq, a veteran Marine gunner sees a war to be won." I joined the Marine Corps in the late 1970s and later became an officer in the Army. I also served in Iraq and other places.

It is refreshing to see a platform where people in uniform can freely express themselves. Thanks to the Monitor for providing the platform, and thanks to Gunner Walker for his vision and service.


The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to Readers Write and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to OpEd.