IoS letters, emails & texts, 29 June 2008

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It is totally absurd for Ian McEwan ("I despise Islamism", 22 June) to state that "Islamism in most of its manifestations not only wants to kill me – it wants to kill you" because the majority of terrorists come from the Shia sect of Islam which amounts to about 2 per cent of all Muslims. The British portrayal of Muslims is leading to the general public's assuming that all Muslims are going to be a part of some terrorist attack or another, and to be honest it is getting completely out of hand. It is about time the media stopped putting such negative ideas about Islam into the public's mind and started to report fairly.

If a terrorist attack is conducted by a Muslim, then state the facts; but there is no need to make out that all Muslims are the same as the terrorist. If the media carries on the way it is, everyone will have the same narrow-minded and parochial opinions as McEwan and what does that say about a country that is supposed to be so open to having a multicultural society?

Alma Hunter


It was refreshing to read that Ian McEwan despises Islamism and defends his friend Martin Amis against ridiculous accusations of racism for holding the same view.

Every year, tens of thousands of people risk death by leaving Islam in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Iran. Many or most of these apostates from Islam vociferously criticise both it and the bullying tactics of Islamists. To suggest that such criticism suddenly makes these sensible people become racists is patently absurd.

No religion should be protected in law, especially if it lends its name to political parties.

Are we to accept that ridiculing a political party is "a hate crime" because to do so would also be ridiculing the religion on which the said party is based?

Certainly not. Many believe it is their moral duty to criticise, ridicule and even condemn religion as fervently as racism.

Stephen Gash

Stop Islamisation of Europe – SIOE (England), Carlisle

With reference to Ian McEwan's comment that he "despises Islamism" for its medievalism more than Christian fundamentalism, as "American Christians don't want to kill anyone in my city", one would hope Mr McEwan notices that there are far more American Christians killing Muslims in Muslim cities than there are Muslims killing or trying to kill anyone in any city in the world.

Carole Craig

Dublin 8

Dave Prentis has the cheek to say that "soaring inflation is already rendering it [the NHS pay deal] obsolete, and if it continues he will fight for a new deal" ("Raise them up, or they will bring you down", 22 June).

It was his union, together with the Royal College of Nursing, that negotiated a secret deal behind the back of the other NHS unions only a few months ago. The deal they negotiated was already well below the RPI inflation rate, and it hardly required a crystal ball to know inflation was heading upwards quite sharply. When, next March, Unison members contemplate why their pay doesn't buy as much as it did this year, they will know exactly where to lay the blame.

Christopher Anton

Handsworth, Birmingham

Joan Smith is quite right ("To clear your name, it helps to speak up", 22 June): sexual assault is not a form of entertainment and should not be treated as such by the press. But she is wrong to accuse the England Rugby Football Union and its players in New Zealand of refusing "to assist a foreign police force with a serious criminal investigation", as this was not a serious criminal investigation.

Whatever happened to this young woman she did not make a formal complaint. Any lawyer will tell you that without a "formal complaint", ie, a statement from a victim, the police cannot proceed with a case, so what did they hope to achieve by meeting the players' legal representatives? If it was a serious criminal investigation, why were the players allowed to return to the UK, after which there would be no hope of the Auckland police continuing properly (eg, with forensic evidence) with their "investigation", even if they do eventually get a formal complaint?

In the context of any serious complaint made by a victim about a serious sexual assault, and knowing that the England squad would fly home within days, the police should surely have arrived with a statement and evidence of identification, enough to arrest any suspects and thus put the case on a legal footing. They apparently did not have those.

What we had instead was all smoke and mirrors, and Joan Smith has herself been caught up in the mist.

She writes about "the impact on rape investigations in general" that this debacle may have. The actions of the Auckland police and journalists here do not bode well for an improvement.

John Batey

via email

Over the past week the honesty, or lack of it, of the British public has been highlighted by the story of Hacker's Fruit Farm where the public was invited to "pick your own". Unfortunately, it appears that not only did most people pick their own, but they ate them as well, thereby removing the need to pay for them.

In the early Seventies, my wife and I ran a small hotel in Kingsbridge. Not being able to afford a barman, I left a pad and pen on the bar, requesting visitors help themselves and then make a note of what they had taken. This "Serve Yourself Bar" was a huge success.

One visitor said he would never rob us of a drink, as we treated him in such an adult fashion. Another told us that he had bought more drinks than usual, because it was fun to go behind the bar to pour his own. Over the three years we ran the hotel, the bar never showed a loss and we never had a cheque bounce.

Were we just lucky or do people respond to the way they are treated?

Colin Bower

Sherwood, Nottingham

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