Another take on Islam

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “Emma Alberici (and the West) doesn’t understand anything about Muslims” (Friday). Like many Australians I too have been disinclined to hear other sides of the Muslim story despite having a couple of Muslim friends; one of whom recommended to me a book other than the Koran — A History of the Arab Peoples, by Albert Hourani. It’s well worth the read, and I strongly recommend it for both journalists and politicians.

Waking up to the ramifications of surveillance

Maz Hind writes: Re. “What’s behind the sudden furore on jailed journalists?” (Thursday). Those interested in protecting a democratic and fair society would be well advised to reject the security laws as proposed by the federal government and agreed to by the states. These laws assume (innocently) that they will only be used by ethical power brokers against dangerous, violent terrorists. However these laws can equally be used by malevolent power brokers against those standing up against their injustices. For example, citizens trying to protest/take action against human rights issues, environmental and animal cruelty issues could see these laws used against them. Similar laws have been passed in a number of states in the USA and used against animal rights groups, who are trying to highlight cruelty within the agribusiness industry. They are labelled terrorists, and sentenced accordingly.

These laws are being passed with the utmost urgency by the government without a lot of public scrutiny. This in itself is suspect. An independent body, separate from government interference and similar to the courts must protect us from this possibility.

Peter Matters writes: I find everybody’s concern about the legality of government information gathering surprising. It has been clear to me for at least ten years that government has had the capacity to find out any information they wanted on  any citizen — lawfully or otherwise — and there is nothing anybody can do about it, for we live in the age of instant communication. Fortunately this fact cuts both ways, but it is no longer the press who will sniff out any undue interference — it is the public media which will ensure that a democracy remains a democracy.