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Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was slain in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.Hasan Jamali/The Associated Press

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:


An ever-changing story

I strongly disagree with U.S. President Donald Trump’s contention that the latest Saudi explanation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is credible and “a good first step” (Saudis Claim Khashoggi Died In Fight At Consulate, Oct. 20).

It is nothing of the kind. It is a belated and limited admission of guilt designed to minimize culpability, save face and insulate top Saudi leaders who have been implicated in a ruthless political murder.

Barry Francis, Toronto


So we’re now being asked to believe that Mr. Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul after getting into a scrap with a squad of Saudi police officials – one of whom just happened to have a bone saw in his luggage when he came to town as a “tourist.” Oh, my.

Pardon me for mentioning this, but if this situation wasn’t so sickeningly real and ominous, I might well think it sounds like the plot for a Coen brothers movie. The parallels between what happened to Mr. Khashoggi and the plot of their absurdist 2008 black comedy Burn After Reading are chilling. In that movie, the bodies of the victims of murders that are politically “inconvenient” are hastily covered up and made to disappear. Sound familiar?

Ken Cuthbertson, Kingston


The Saudi government is discovering what the former Salvadoran government learned after assassinating Archbishop Oscar Romero. Rather than being eliminated, Mr. Khashoggi’s influence and impact will continue to grow.

Cathleen Fillmore, Toronto


In light of recent events, I can’t help thinking about a news report I read while living in London about 30 years ago. A British nurse working in Saudi Arabia had been arrested for possession of alcohol. She initially denied her guilt but eventually admitted it, whereupon she was sentenced to 800 lashes for changing her testimony. The Saudis explained to Western reporters that it was an offence in the kingdom to change a declaration made to investigators since that amounted to a admission that you had previously been untruthful.

The Saudis insisted for two weeks that Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate in good health and they had no idea what might have happened to him. Now they’ve changed their story. I wonder if the Saudi law against changing a testimony is still in force.

Allan Martin, Ottawa


I am appalled by the U.S. handling of the Khashoggi death. While U.S. President Donald Trump has said and done some incredulous things, he has now entered a far more serious state where his true orientation shows. If I were an American, I would now be very afraid about the state’s ability to protect my rights and life.

Not only is Mr. Trump not vigorously questioning the Saudi assassination of an individual that’s a permanent resident of the United States but he has also explicitly stated that the United States will only vigorously defend its people if they do not compromise business deals. To make matters worse, Mr. Trump has also made the first pass at placing the value of a life at a fixed number of ephemeral future jobs.

As a Canadian, I am proud that our government has shown it has a moral compass and is willing to call an egregious act of state-sanctioned retribution as unacceptable and as having repercussions.

Lance Pope, Mississauga

Slavery persists

In Jeffrey Sach’s zeal to demonize the United States for retaining some cultural elements of slavery, he neglects to mention several areas of the world where the horrors of actual slavery still exist (America’s Unending Civil War, Oct. 20).

Some 2.8 million women work as domestic servants all over the Middle East – many are mothers from Africa who are desperately trying to earn money to support children and husbands in their home countries. Their passports are confiscated and they are often beaten, sexually abused and forced to work without pay.

An estimated 20 million people in India, China and Pakistan are similar victims of caste-system forced labour, forced marriage, child slavery and sex trafficking. These modern day abominations are not perpetrated by “privileged white men” and have been continuing for thousands of years. Civil war or not, America still stands out in the world as a unique place of opportunity for everyone.

Herb Schultz, Edmonton

Honour the dead

As a formerly licenced archaeologist for the Province of Ontario, I experienced first-hand the blatant disregard for our nation’s history in the name of wealth.

I’ve never read anything as heinous as your story about the “damn skull” that Goderich, Ont., homeowner Pat Baker was so eager to be rid of (A Mysterious Skull Becomes An Ontario Homeowner’s Headache, Oct. 22). The story paints an ugly picture of today’s unfortunate reality where modern archaeologists are caught between the client, the law, and their moral obligations to the deceased.

Is there some expiry date on human dignity that I’m unaware of? That skull was part of a human being. It was a person. The person had a family, and people who loved them. But that information seems irrelevant and almost irritating when a wealthy woman decides to build a patio in her backyard.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and my fellow archaeologists chose a thankless and unstable industry in order to give a voice to the dead. Every day in Ontario, the wealthy are winning the war in erasing our archaeological past in the name of progress. Archaeologists are often the only thing standing between corporate greed and our nation’s pride and heritage. In these uncertain times, I pray the latter wins.

Rebecca Wright, Hamilton

Banning books

Re No, To Kill A Mockingbird Shouldn’t Be Taught In 2018 (Oct. 22):

As a high-school student who read To Kill a Mockingbird in Grade 7, I believe that the novel’s message of condemning racism and prejudice is powerful. The novel educated my class on the social injustice faced by African-Americans and taught us how we should be able to think for ourselves. The novel authentically displayed the era, and by allowing the novel to be in the school curriculum, it makes sure the past is unforgotten.

Yes, the novel was written from a white woman’s perspective, but that does not mean that the novel is irrelevant. A novel dealing with racism does not have to be written by someone of colour. The message is more important than perspective, and the novel deals with themes that are still prevalent in society today, so it should not be banned.

Sophia Lebedko, Toronto


Discussing racism should never be allowed to go out of fashion. Otherwise, then you do actually kill the mockingbird.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

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