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McGill Reporter
October 11, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 03
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Letters

To the editor:

As a former exchange scholar between the Canada Council and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR who had specialized on the national language policies of the then Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, I read with great interest Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins's article, "Laura-Julie Perrault: Always on the go" (27 Sept. 2001), about the journalist and political scientist Laura-Julie Perreault and her study plans in the former Soviet Central Asia.

Mr. Desjardins writes: "Perreault will use the funding to visit and report on five countries of Central Asia that were formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan."

It is true that those five republics have become independent after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, but they were formed as national units much earlier, in 1924 or 1925. Their constitutional status within the Soviet Union was similar to that of the provinces within Canada or of the states within the U.S.A. Unlike the Canadian provinces or the American states, they had the right to secede written in their constitution, which they invoked in 1991.

It seems to be a recent practice in journalism to apply the term "country" solely to independent states. By this criterion Monaco and the Vatican are "countries" while Scotland is not.

Jan W. Weryho
Islamic Studies Cataloguing
Librarian
(retired)

To the editor:

I was surprised to see Bronwyn Chester's letter last issue implying that the new staff fitness program excluded employees at Macdonald campus, as this was never the plan. As contained in our communications to the McGill community, as well as the information in the Fit@McGill publication, "discussions are underway to offer a similar program on the Macdonald campus commencing January 2002."

This was a pilot project where most of the work on the program was done during the summer months, and it was felt that the staff fitness program would take place on the downtown campus first, followed by a similar program at Macdonald campus next semester.

Based on positive feedback already received from the participants of the downtown staff fitness program, we hope that the Macdonald campus staff will also find their program (starting next January) useful and successful.

Lydia Martone
Manager
Office of the Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance)

To the editor:

I read with interest the article by Maeve Haldane on the recent round table on terrorism (Sept. 27). It helps summarize the problems in dealing with terrorism. One issue that the article needed to discuss more effectively was global terrorism.

The U.S. has recently been forced to fight terrorism because it has been attacked on its own soil. However, the U.S. and most countries in the West have, until recently, ignored the frightening rise in terrorist attacks occurring around the globe.

Unfortunately, terrorism elsewhere has been easy to overlook as the media generally does not report acts of terrorism outside of the West and the Middle East.

In India, terrorists in Kashmir, aided and trained by Pakistan, kill hundreds of innocent civilians each year. Pakistan has also supported Sikh extremists in the Punjab in an effort to destabilize India.

Unfortunately, because of political expediency, the West, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K., has turned a blind eye to the violence in the region, helping to ensure that peace remains elusive for a whole subcontinent.

Terrorism is also on the rise in many other countries where religious fundamentalists seek to gain an upper hand over what they perceive as a threat to their privileges: the rising influence of U.S. culture, and the progress made by women and religious minorities.

As Canadians, we should realize that we are not immune to terrorist attacks either. While most Canadians take their security for granted, the Indian community does not. In 1985, Sikh extremists (allegedly aided by Pakistan) bombed an Air India flight, killing 329 people, most of them Canadians. And in recent years, Islamic fundamentalists, also based in Canada, have made attempts to bomb a number of Hindu temples in Ontario.

Terrorist incidents in Canada are likely to increase further as the Canadian government continues to relax its refugee policies, further letting in thousands of economic migrants from countries where religious intolerance is on the rise.

We should thus remember that terror could come from within as well. And the recent attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus (a Hindu temple in Hamilton was recently razed to the ground) should make us realize that Canadians can also be a part of the problem.

Unless we examine terrorism from a global perspective, we will fail to effectively understand and deal with it. The fight against terrorism must also not be sidelined by political considerations.

The recent announcement by the U.S. to fight terrorism globally is highly commendable. As Canadians, we should do all that we can to help the Americans in this fight against intolerance and hatred. And this might mean losing our innocence.

Bharat Kewmar
BSc 1993 (Biology)

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