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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Atrocity by Iraqis May Hurt Other Muslims

September 07, 2004

Re "Militants Appear to Kill 12 Iraq Hostages," Sept. 1: The stupidity of Iraqi militants who executed 12 Nepalese workers surpasses any imagination. Although Nepal is a Hindu monarchy, thousands of Muslims have long lived quite peacefully in some of the country's southern districts.

I was a Peace Corps science teacher in a western hill district several days' walk from any villages where Muslims lived. I have vivid memories of the visit of an itinerant repairer of the mantle lanterns that were our only evening sources of bright light before electrification. This man felt safe enough to travel alone into totally Hindu districts. He performed his prayers before a rapt audience.

This man was drinking from the same well of human tolerance and forbearance that nourished me and so many other sojourners in Nepal. In the wider world, we often drink from this well as we pass through so many situations where we find ourselves a little out of place.

Cretin jihadists in Iraq have done their best to poison this well. Will their co-religionists in Nepal suddenly find themselves unwelcome?

David Mason

Culver City

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