As a Muslim, Arab-American teen, I have seen how my community is cursed, with Islam being associated with extremists and terrorism. We are constantly trying to communicate to others that our religion does in no way agree with the actions of jihadists, yet still there are cases of ignorance and racism against our people. But Ahmed Mohamed’s situation is not one of those cases (“Teen’s arrest sparks furor across U.S.,” Sept. 17).

Mohamed was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to his school. If you see a picture of the clock — by itself without any news story attached — you cannot deny that it looks like a bomb.

Why should I be angry at a teacher for taking extra precautions when a student brings in a contraption that even the police agree looks suspicious? In a country where, since December 2012, there have been more than 100 school shootings, I cannot be opposed to a teacher assuming the worst in that situation. I just read how a Waseca, Minn., teen plotted a massacre at his high school with pressure-cooker bombs.

This story is not a race issue, and it’s not a religion issue. The kid could have been named John Brown, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that the clock looks like a bomb. Bottom line: A school reacted to what looked to be a bomb threat, and right now I can’t say that was a bad call.

Nadia Shaarawi, Eden Prairie

• • •

The xenophobic remarks being made by some presidential candidates are cause for serious concern, the most recent example being Ben Carson’s views that a Muslim should not be president of the United States (even though no Muslims are running).

I’m reminded of similar outrageous statements made back in 1960 when John Kennedy’s Catholicism was a major campaign issue. Even the nation’s most prominent Protestant columnist at the time, Norman Vincent Peale, publicly opposed Kennedy’s election on religious grounds. Fears that a Catholic president would offer allegiance to the Vatican first and to the Constitution and the American people second were being fanned by many. I’m sad to admit that even my father espoused that view. Thankfully, the country rose above this religious bigotry and moved on — or did it?

Today we find ourselves faced with the same fear-mongering as was expressed in 1960. It was wrong then; it is wrong now. Whether the nation can again rise above these fears remains to be seen. I certainly hope it can.

Bill Rohde, New Brighton



Be like Singapore? That’s not what our country is about

Regarding the Sept. 20 letter addressing the issue of downtown Minneapolis crime and yearning for the U.S. to be more like Singapore — where there are canings and hangings without jury trials: This struck me as possibly the most un-American letter to the editor that I’d read in years. I sure hope not very many people agree with the sentiments expressed in that letter — or else this country truly is in a heap of trouble.

John Ewan, Falcon Heights



Reader asks about public funding; here’s the answer

To the Sept. 21 letter writer who asked, “Why [is] Planned Parenthood dependent on government funding? Why can’t the organization accomplish its work with foundation grants, corporate sponsorship and individual donations?” The answer is that Planned Parenthood is, in fact, funded with foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, individual donations and, of course, fees for services. Government money, which does not cover abortion services, comes from the Title X Family Planning Program and from Medicaid, and provides only about a third of Planned Parenthood’s revenue.

Title X, which has been in existence for more than 40 years, trains staff members to provide reproductive health care to teenagers, people with limited English, and people with complex social situations, including victims of domestic violence, the homeless and the mentally ill. Medicaid covers health care for those without the financial means to buy private insurance. Planned Parenthood is not the only health care facility to receive both Title X and Medicaid funding, nor is it the only one offering abortion services; it is, however, the only health care facility to be demonized for ideological and political purposes, likely because Planned Parenthood, more than any other facility, empowers poor women to make their own reproductive choices, without shaming and without being judgmental.

In many parts of the country, Planned Parenthood is the only health care facility providing family planning services, cancer screening, prenatal care, and STD screening and treatment to poor women; there simply aren’t enough clinics available to absorb the thousands of women who would lose access to reproductive health care if Planned Parenthood were to lose government funding. Is it really both cost-effective and ethical to deny poor women access to lifesaving health care?

Joyce Denn, Woodbury



Coach thinks he’s got problems?

On Saturday, I attended my first, and likely my last, football game as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota. It was a boring and depressing game in which a mediocre home team appeared determined not to score against a downright awful visiting team.

The Star Tribune reports that when very legitimate questions were raised about his offense at a postgame news conference, the Gophers coach — a man who has received almost uninterrupted adulation since his arrival at the U — reacted with a peevish tantrum worthy of a teenager rather than a man getting paid $2.5 million to win football games.

In my time at the U, I have seen my students’ tuition skyrocket, resources for faculty research decline and the AFSCME workers who keep the U running on a day-to-day basis offered a downright insulting contract with a raise that won’t even keep up with a low inflation rate. In that context, witnessing the petulant rant (“I probably deserve to be fired today, so is that good enough for you? Huh?”) of a millionaire coach was even uglier than watching the game itself.

Jason McGrath, Minneapolis

• • •

To all the so-called Gophers fans who booed last Saturday, we believe you have forgotten how much Coach Jerry Kill and his staff have meant to this state. Not only have they brought the football program up to a very competitive level, but the kids are working hard in the classroom with high GPAs. Hearing the boos, it feels like “Minnesota Nice” is likely overrated. Booing college kids who are working their hardest is difficult to understand.

Let’s get and stay behind this outstanding coach and staff and just have fun. After all, we are 2-1 so far, on what will continue to be one of the most difficult schedules in the country. We are proud of these young men and will continue to support this great program.

Barbara and Douglas McNeely, St. Louis Park