Letter: No excuse for killing

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IN THE MATTER of the recent bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Robert Fisk seems to have stepped over the line from an understanding of the situation's possible roots to assuming that this knowledge obviates the need for harsh judgement ("The Saudi connection", 9 August).

It seems to me naive in the extreme to believe that a culture as undemocratic, closed and steeped in the most puritanical traditions of Islam (this is a reference to Abd-el-Wahhab, not a crass "Western" generalisation) as Saudi Arabia should not have both a high degree of anti-Americanism and also be sponsoring Islamic freedom fighters/terrorists elsewhere in the world.

Mr Fisk makes a convincing case that Osama bin Laden could well be connected with the bombings - or, if not he, some other Saudi. This is precisely why the bombing was represented as the work of Muslim "madmen" in the press.

A man who lets off a bomb killing innocents in Oklahoma City is a redneck or white supremacist madman, or what you will. Equally, whether or not the United States has more sympathy for Israel than for its Arab neighbours, the bottom line following a person who sets off a bomb in Nairobi killing hundreds of innocent Kenyans and a few US personnel is still a Muslim madman.

I think many of us who are not ignorant of the history and cultural subtleties of the Muslim world, nor naive about the role of the United States in that area, are none the less both weary and disgusted by the endless repetition of the "I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived" argument that is wheeled out whenever these atrocities occur, or the very real shortcomings of the regimes in most of these countries are discussed.

Tout comprendre does not mean tout pardonner.

C D B PETTIT

London N5

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