National Geographic : 2001 Mar
Forum November 2000 Our articles often elicit wildly diver gent responses, as this selection illus trates, but there was no disagreement about the subject of "The Art of Being Luis Marden." Fond recollections poured in about the man who "so delighted in chroniclingevery nuance of the world." Confessed one readerof the story: "I picked it up, closed my office door, and spent the next hour diving in search of the Bounty." Libya It was a pleasure to see a well balanced piece on Libya and Muammar Qaddafi. For many years now I have felt that media in the West were giving him a bad rap; he is an intelligent man trying to drag a medieval, feudal country into the 21st century. His views on women and their rights are especially enlightened for an Islamic leader of an Arab country. It is time to give him the credit he deserves. LISE ALPER Englewood, Colorado To feature Muammar Qaddafi on the cover of NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC, to use one of his glo rified egocentric wall portraits in which he appears as a golden emperor, has elevated this terror ist enemy of the United States to a position of respect and power that he does not deserve. MARLON S. PIKE Southfield, Michigan On pages 4 and 5 the caption states: "Islamic tradition permits one eye to show from a robe worn by a woman." This is inac curate. Nothing in Islamic law requires women to cover their entire body except for "one eye." Islam requires both men and women to dress modestly. Women must cover their hair, a requirement called hijab.They are not required to cover their faces at all. If it is required in the Tripoli airport, it is because of Libyan culture and customs. HESHAM A. HASSABALLA Villa Park, Illinois We referred to a tradition among some Libyan Muslims, not to Islamic law. As you point out, it is not a custom of Islam generally. I spent almost three years in Libya in the early '80s. I was struck by the entrenched method of using one's connections to get anything done. One needed them to get anything from evaporated milk to an exit visa. Another curiosity was that it was very difficult for a Libyan to be an ordinary laborer. It seemed everyone had to have a title or be a mowdeer (boss) of something, even if it was paper clips. Last, and most important, the Libyans were not radical. They were friendly, peaceful people who should not be judged by the actions of their government. DAVID WHEELER NiagaraFalls, Ontario I was at Wheelus Air Base in Libya when Qaddafi took over. I could imagine that he brought NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * MARCH 2001 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increaseand diffusion of geographicknowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, ).C ., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. 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