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Islamic law

According to your article Freedom Declared In Libya (Oct. 24), National Transitional Council chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil vows to uphold Islamic law. So, freedom is declared for Libyan men, whereas Libyan women will continue to suffer under an archaic, patriarchal legal system. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Blair Boudreau, Toronto

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It'll be interesting to see how the West justifies the fact that this "democracy" it helped bring about is going to continue to treat women as chattel.

Charles Reid, Nanaimo, B.C.

Islamic banking

I'll leave it to scholars more learned than I to explain how sharia says that a loan of money, secured against a property, to be paid back over time in exchange for fees, is not the same as paying interest on a mortgage (Islamic Lender Puts Homeowners In Limbo – Oct. 24). But I'm pretty sure that the Rotman School of Management's Walid Hejazi, who warns that Canada is "lagging" behind American sharia lenders, should find a better regulatory model than the U.S. system.

Mark Slone, Toronto

The love canoe

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Stephen Slemon, in attacking Margaret Wente's denunciation of the meaningless language of "feminist geographers" (They Hijacked The Humanities, And My Canoe – Oct. 22), echoes other letter writers (Mapping Margaret – Oct. 24) in claiming she's just not made the effort to understand their technical language, comparable to that of kinesiology or mathematics. A more appropriate comparison would be the cryptic pronouncements of astrology or numerology.

Had these prostitutions of astronomy and mathematics been taught in Canadian universities, I would object to the perverse use of my taxes. Astrology courses are not being offered yet, but large components of our departments of humanities and the vast majority of our faculties of education wallow in the same mire of irrationality.

David Munoz, professor, University of Toronto


I want to share a recent comment from our visitor's book at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Of their own free will, and presumably not coerced by any of the hegemonically inclined paragons of phallocracy who work here, Suresh and Sangita, who were visiting from India, wrote: "Your attempt to preserve the past only intensifies our desire to make Canada our home."

John Summers, general manager, Canadian Canoe Museum, Peterborough, Ont.

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Public-sector defence

I'm sick and tired of those who bash public-sector unions (Neil Reynolds's Governments Don't Have To Surrender To Public-Sector Unions – Oct. 24). I'm a public-sector worker, and I certainly don't have a "gold-plated" pension. My wage is fair but not exorbitant, and I'm constantly paying to upgrade my skills to stay current and provide clients with the best possible service.

Remember, we're the ones who care for you when you're sick, the ones who put out the fires. Stop bashing us.

Brendan Shields, Vancouver


Government surrender to public-sector unions hardly describes what happened with Air Canada and Canada Post. The real surrender is to privatization. As public services and public functions are privatized, wages are lowered, and user fees are raised.

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Once a function is privatized, governments lose effective control over that function as their commitments to private-sector contracts take precedence. The public should find some sense of relief from public-sector unions that provide impediments to the sell-off of governments.

David Rapaport, Toronto

Blowing smoke

Re An Unrepentant David Hockney (Review, Oct. 24): If you're lucky enough to have filled 12 museums with art, smoked and lived to 91, as Picasso did, good for you. There are exceptions, of course. But for every Picasso or David Hockney, there are millions of anonymous dead or dying where Mr. Hockney's "delicious" nicotine is the vile culprit.

Mr. Hockney may detest anti-smoking "zealotry," but, in his "lifelong penchant for swimming upstream," this doomed fish is out of water. I can only surmise that he's using this outrageous nattering to shamelessly promote. Gnash your nicotine gums about the state of art and listen to the bell. It's tolling for thee!

Norman Coutts, Toronto

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Polio partnership

As Paul Martin suggests (We Are On The Cusp Of Ending This Disease – Oct. 24), the eradication of polio will be cause for great celebration. What many fail to acknowledge is that this effort originated within a service organization, Rotary International, in 1985. Three years later, Rotary helped form an alliance with the World Health Organization, Unicef and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to increase the available firepower.

With 34,000 clubs worldwide and 1.2 million members, this organization is still the boots-on-the-ground leader in that battle. It has also contributed a great deal of money – most recently agreeing to raise $200-million (U.S.) to match $355-million in challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This is not to play down the work of our partners. Every once in a while, though, we should wave our own flag.

Peter McKenzie-Brown, Calgary

Pre-1867 and all that

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In explaining the Harper government's fixation on the War of 1812 ('Birthplace Of Hockey' Faces Untimely End – Oct. 24), Heritage Minister James Moore says "there are very few moments pre-1867 that are watershed moments in the development of Canada." I'm about midway through the pre-Confederation term of my intro Canadian history course. Guess I should just tell my students we can wrap it up and call it a day.

Steven Maynard, Department of History, Queen's University

Just say nyet

According to 'We Are Not Dreamers' (Focus, Oct. 22), Slovenian academic Slavoj Žižek grew up "in Ljubljana under Kremlin rule." Tito repudiated Soviet interference in Yugoslav affairs in 1948, and the country eventually became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Communist as it was, there was never Kremlin rule in Yugoslavia.

Brian Bertosa, Cobourg, Ont.

Shark bait

In response to fatal shark attacks off Australia's southwest coast, you report (3 Shark Killings Raise Spectre Of Rogue Man-Eater – Oct. 24) that Western Australia's Premier is considering shark culls because of "locals' complaints that shark numbers are increasing." And where are the shark numbers increasing? "Off bustling beaches in one of Australia's fastest growing population areas." If only the sharks could appreciate the irony.

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

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