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Clash of civilizations considered

June 10, 2007

Re "A veiled-eye view of Saudi segregation," Column One, June 6

As a man, I cannot begin to fathom what women in Saudi Arabia have to endure to live in such a society. Megan Stack's article is gut-wrenching, and it makes me sad to think of all the women who will never see their productive and creative potential come to fruition.

JACK BERNARD BROWN

Fullerton

*

I am an American Muslim man who recently performed Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca) in Saudi Arabia with my wife, my mother, my sister and other family members. This was my first visit to Saudi Arabia and, without any exaggeration, I hated every minute that I spent in that repressive kingdom, which is an anachronism that exists as a legitimate entity only on account of the world's thirst for oil.

Indeed, away from its air-conditioned malls and brightly lighted boulevards, the country is most backward and brutally repressive. Women and minorities (non-Saudi and nonwhites) are treated like scum.

We have a choice. Things need not be this way. It is our government that props up the Saudi royal family and by default the religious police that enforce the tribal (not Islamic) practices of veiling of women and segregation of the sexes. I for one would be willing to pay a lot more for gas if it meant an end to this heinous regime.

AMIN HAQ

Studio City

*

Stack is an example of the ugly American. What a waste of an opportunity to be an observer of a culture that she could have experienced for what it was worth, without judgmental prejudices, and maybe in that process develop an understanding of how we Americans became different from our global neighbors.

JOAN LONON

Pasadena

*

All my life I have been taught to respect all cultures and not judge them. But how can I respect a culture that would never respect me as an equal simply because I'm female? Am I to buy into the notion that women in Saudi Arabia aren't allowed to vote or drive out of respect for their gender? Am I supposed to withhold judgment and accept that women are given second-class status because it's not right to criticize their religious beliefs?

Well, I also learned to reject any systems that marginalize a group because of bigotry or, in this case, misogyny. My hope is that more Americans open their eyes and see that tolerating this form of discrimination only validates it.

RENATA GARZA

Pasadena

*

The juxtaposition of Stack's story on the place of women in Saudi Arabia and the anti-abortion piece ("Absolutists turn against other foes of abortion," June 6) was interesting. Had you managed to put in the June 5 article about haredim (ultra-orthodox Jews) taking over in Jerusalem ("Clashing values alter a city's face"), you would have made it a great trifecta. Together they are a cautionary tale of what happens when religious fundamentalism affects or takes over a society. My presidential vote next year will go to that candidate who refuses to play the religion game or tell us how religious he or she is. In this country, we have, or used to have, not only freedom of religion but freedom from religion.

JERRY BEIGEL

Los Angeles

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