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Letters

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Protecting Purloined Art
It is interesting that, apparently, none of the countries cited in “A Goddess Goes Home” thanked the United States museums for buying artwork and keeping it safe in climate-controlled conditions. Yes, it’s wrong that items were stolen and sold, but I wonder what would have happened had they not been acquired by major museums. And though I sympathize with Greece concerning the Elgin marbles, I doubt the country can currently afford to safeguard the treasures.
Jane Maule
St. Louis, Missouri

Deadly Poachers
Thank you for your excellent article on rhino poaching in South Africa [“Defending the Rhino”]. As a private landowner with a breeding pair of white rhinos, I wish to point out that an additional risk, along with financial and conservation concerns, is personal security. The presence of rhinos on one’s land invites a criminal element that will not blink at the thought of hurting or even killing dedicated staff that might try to prevent poachers from seizing the animals.
Louis Van Der Merwe
Johannesburg, South Africa

Religious Freedom
Smithsonian Magazine is to be commended for publishing Joshua Hammer’s story concerning the history and persecution of the Copts in Egypt [“Aftershocks”]. Much of the mainstream media ignore what is happening to Christian minorities in Middle Eastern countries. I fear for the future of Iraq because its constitution does not establish genuine freedom of religion. A religious freedom clause in the constitution is weakened by a declaration in the document that the official religion of the country is Islam and that no law can contradict its teachings. Freedom of religion is a necessary and fundamental element in any democracy.
Stephen W. Leonard
Vidalia, Georgia

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