February 11, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 73  

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Lost in translation

Re: “Hijab-wearing an individual decision,” Feb. 3, 2004

To the Editor:
Andy Patton stated that Muslim women are forced to wear the Hijab, and Raghab Ebied pointed out that some Muslim women make a conscious decision to wear it. I feel the need to mediate a common ground. Though some women decide to wear the Hijab, many educated and uneducated women are forced to, not by their countries, but by their families.

Raghab quoted a section of the Qur’an that has been under severe scrutiny from Muslim scholars. Many state that the request for women to dress modestly must be put in context of the situation that existed prior to the Qur’an’s revelation. Women were commonly flaunting their bodies, and rape and abuse were common. It is no wonder that God commanded modesty, for women’s safety and respect.

The definition of the “khumurihinna” has been contested also. Many scholars believe the meaning was modified after a consensus was developed regarding its meaning, consequent to the Qur’an’s revelation. Thus, it is as fair to assume that the meaning was modified post-Qur’an as it is to assume the meaning existed prior to its revelation.

Language is a medium which individuals are free to interpret and obey as they see fit and not according to formal definitions. Many Muslim women have consciously decided that modesty is a mental state and that no physical covering could ever guarantee modesty. This is surely the case because one who is modest in her dress is not always modest in her ways of being, and vice versa.

In the end, I choose to defend the proverb, “To each their own.”

Zahra Kara
Political Science & Women’s Studies III

Table trouble

To the Editor:
I went to grab a quick lunch at the Nucleus Café in the Natural Sciences Centre and wasn’t able to get a seat for 15 minutes because of inconsiderate students taking up the booths with their books. No food, they were just studying.

I find this unfair because we cannot take food to the library and they could have easily been studying there. There are zillions of places to study — stop making us wait to eat our damn lunch!

Erica Joseph
Music III

It’s the United States of whatever

Re: “America the Beautiful,” February 4, 2004

To the Editor:
Might I respectfully suggest that Ms. Burdzinski further research her subject matter before pointing fingers? The professors of the CentreSpot roundtable who, she would have us believe, choose to “denounce America” as a “favourite pastime” are not simply ignorant Canadians who “know very few Americans and have spent very little time [in the States].”

In fact, the debate was conducted by a professor at the Centre for American Studies, who has likely spent the better part of his life researching the stars and stripes, as well as Dr. Bryce Traister, who is himself an American and Berkeley graduate.

To my mind, it is particularly telling that these experts denounce George W. Bush’s chilling rhetoric (and perhaps, by extension, American arrogance), as they have a wealth of first-hand experience on which to draw. Indeed, the denunciation is more than warranted — perhaps Bush’s America has diverged from the country’s “founding ideology,” but this self-aggrandizing divergence is supported by a majority of contemporary Americans.

Furthermore, as a daughter of a Vietnam draft dodger, I feel I must respond to Ms. Burdzinski’s “justification” of American arrogance. My father, facing the prospect of fighting a war in which he did not believe, moved to Canada to seek life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ironic, isn’t it?

Julia Obert
English IV

To the Editor:
I think some of the anti-American sentiment that is so strongly expressed stems from reaction to attitudes and misinformation similar to that exhibited in Ms. Burdzinski’s letter. To say “America was the first country founded on the rational principle of individual rights — a beacon of prosperity and freedom” is to prove my point perfectly.

She further describes the United States as being a progressive, just and generous nation, saying it achieved its greatness “by the hard work of free, individual, proud American minds.” I disagree. I’d say those free, individual and proud Americans had some help with building their economy from the African slaves forced into service for over 500 years.

According to an article by Michael Moore, the U.S. is the only country to drop bombs on over 20 different countries since the end of World War II.

In addition, threats of economic sanctions against countries that don’t play ball with U.S. foreign policy (specifically, the proclamation that countries that refused to fight in Iraq would be left out of business ventures resulting from the take-over) would be considered which of the U.S.’s virtues Burdzinski mentions? Progressiveness? Being “just”? Freedom?

Until the U.S. is willing to recognize that it can’t continue to pretend to be the global gendarme it thinks it is, we will continue to be squeezed more and more firmly under its thumb, and resentment towards the U.S. will grow.

Am I Canadian? Yes. Am I arrogant? If yes, I’m sorry. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness shouldn’t be left to definition and dissemination by the United States of America.

Dave Fenicky



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