Letters: Why did Blair not mention the Saudis?

These letters appear in the Friday 25th April edition of the Independent
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In his speech on Wednesday, Tony Blair should have confronted the main cause behind the making of jihadists; namely, Wahhabi indoctrination.

Wahhabism is a cult-like obsession with the intolerant and the violent in the Koran and the Sunna. It has been the Saudi state’s ideology ever since the kingdom was established in 1932. Despite Saudis’ deep pockets and active proselytisation, Wahhabis make up only 3 per cent of the world’s 1.2 billion Sunnis.

Protected by successive American administrations, Wahhabism produced al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and the September 11 attacks. The al-Sauds managed to deflect Wahhabi culpability for September 11.

The claim that Wahhabism did not contribute to September 11 is propaganda promoted by Riyadh and its Western apologists and business beneficiaries – among them captains of industry, media barons, and former senior politicians, especially in the United States.

Religious indoctrination cannot be ignored in human behaviour. Notwithstanding oil politics, and Western businesses’ obsession with a good deal, it is, nonetheless, bewildering how Western governments would tolerate the regime that released the Wahhabi genie.

Riyadh is behind the radicalisation of tens of thousands among the estimated one hundred million expatriate labourers from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Pakistan and elsewhere who have worked in Saudi Arabia since crude oil prices were quadrupled in October 1973. Wahhabism has also spread through the thousands of Saudi-financed madrassas (religious schools) in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Hillary Clinton, according to WikiLeaks, wrote in December 2009: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Elie Elhadj, London NW8

When an actor mumbles

As a television drama director with over 50 years of experience, including many productions for BBC TV, having watched all three episodes of Jamaica Inn I feel too much has been generalised about this production and the sound quality in today’s television.

When examples of inaudible dialogue were quoted from Jamaica Inn these were only from the character Joss (played by Sean Harris) as all other characters’ words were perfectly audible. And that’s where the problem lies: the training of drama directors.

Often they’re given major period drama productions before gaining enough experience to deal with difficult locations and large casts. They work for several months on the script, and by the time they film the scenes they know the text by heart, which means they understand mumbled speech. The viewers hear it for the first and only time and of course they don’t understand a word.

The actors playing opposite Joss would in real life say “Sorry ... what did you...?” – but because they’ve been rehearsing the scene they’re also familiar with the text, so they understand the mumble.

The director should be the ear and eye of the viewer on the set, with knowledge, self-confidence and authority to make sure the one mumbling actor cannot ruin the enjoyment of viewers.

Peter Sasdy, East Molesey, Surrey

You would have thought that the BBC, after all its recent tribulations, would have realised that honesty is the best policy. Having watched the first episode of Jamaica Inn, and struggled to hear the dialogue from one character, who was mumbling, I was surprised to see the BBC claim this was due to some sort of technical fault, which would be corrected for Episode 2. Well, Episode 2 came and the mumbling remained.

Why couldn’t the BBC simply admit it – the production team got this one wrong and did not recognise the problem with this particular role? But no, the BBC seems constrained to keep digging holes for itself by not admitting fallibility.

Stephen Hicks, Stone, Staffordshire

Will the Government’s awarding of official minority status to the Cornish make it easier to understand the Jamaica Inn dialogue?

Dr Alex May, Manchester

Are we a Christian country?

So David Cameron and some of his cronies claim we are a Christian country largely because the Bible contains the moral code by which many of us live.

Research on human infants and on other social animals such as chimps and elephants shows that empathy, the quintessential basis of morality, is hard wired; it does not come from anybody’s chosen God but from millions of years of evolution.

A perhaps more honest Prime Minister than Cameron (and a much better one), Clement Attlee, got it right when he said he believed in Christian principles as a way of life but without the mumbo-jumbo surrounding them.

Professor Brian S Everitt, King’s College, London

It is difficult to see how Britain can have a coherent society as long as different children can be indoctrinated within the state education service into mutually incompatible religions.

Although the majority of people have long lost any belief in any god-based religion, it has been useful in the past to allow and even fund a state religion, one that has been adapted over nearly five centuries to fit in with society’s civilised norms. However, if the state support of that religion, and of its schools, requires that every religion has to be allowed to have state-funded schools which are free to indoctrinate pupils into what many in society may see as unacceptable theories, then it seems necessary to consider fundamental change, where no children will be indoctrinated in religions by state-sponsored institutions.

Tony Pointon, Southsea, Hampshire

Dominic Kirkham’s letter (23 April) is jaw-dropping in its delusion that we owe “freedom of conscience and equality” to Christian beliefs.

For about 1,800 years of Christianity’s 2,000-year history those who opposed Christian teachings were persecuted. If I had been very lucky and was examined by a kindly Christian about my scepticism, I would simply have been burned to death at the stake. If I was unlucky, I would have been tortured to death in an attempt to save my immortal soul.

Today’s freedoms have been, and continue to be, hard won in spite of Christianity not because of it. The roots of the freedoms we enjoy lie not in Christianity but in the Enlightenment and its harking back to a pre-Christian era.

David Hooley, Newmarket, Suffolk

It is not safe to label any country with any faith, as David Cameron does in his reference to Britain as a Christian country.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), the greatest of the Latin Fathers, lived in what is now Libya. Geographically, Christianity has ebbed and flowed. Today it is growing worldwide faster than it has ever done, in South America, South Africa, Australasia, and China.

The Rev Richard James, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Patron saints of Downing Street

As an Englishman, I congratulate the Prime Minister of England for flying the national flag at 10 Downing Street on St George’s Day. I trust he will remember that he is also Prime Minister of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and fly our other national flags on the appropriate saints’ days. Unless of course he knows something we don’t.

Dave Aylott, Perth, Scotland

I am amazed that Ukip has not been denouncing St George. Surely this is a clear case of a foreigner (a Turk) taking an English job – patron saint.

Rod Auton, Sheffield

Pet supplies at Harrods

In his article “Pet a Porter” (23 April), Alexander Fury stated that we no longer sold pet accessories at Harrods: “The closure of the Harrods pet department earlier this year – hitherto stalwart supplier of furry follies such as four-poster leopard-print cat beds, diamante-studded dog collars and . . . everything from lion cubs to alligators”.

While he is right that the sale of livestock has ceased, as has our Pet Spa, we continue to sell a range of pet accessories through our Mungo & Maud concession on the second floor.

Joel Verner, Manager, Corporate Affairs, Harrods, London SW1

Homes you can’t afford any more

Your editorial of 23 April highlights the adverse effect that the Government’s changes to planning law will have on provision of affordable homes. Has any study been made of the number of affordable houses lost each year by their owners’ upgrading them by extensions or other improvements, rather than going through the problems and expense of moving house, thereby moving them into a higher price category?

Tim Voelcker, Bucklesham, Suffolk