Tunisian accuses Arab world of “a deafening silence” on Darfur

December 28, 2004

* "A deafening silence was observed throughout the Arab world on the horrendous crime being committed by their fellow Arabs in Sudan"

* International reaction contrasts starkly to South Asia earthquake



1. Former head of Tunisian section of Amnesty International blames Arab governments for complicity in ongoing Darfur genocide
2. Sudan foreign minister blames Israel for escalation of Darfur situation
3. The European Left is silent as Arabs commit genocide on Black Africans. "If they can't blame America, or Halliburton, then death, rape and torture don't matter"
4. "Where are the Rachel Corrie types? Why are there no human shields laying down in front of the Janjaweed to protect the black farmers?"
5. "The Arab silence on Darfur revisited"
6. UN needs to do more to win over Arabs, UN official


[Note by Tom Gross]

While it is heartening to see so many groups respond so quickly to the natural catastrophe in South Asia this week, and to see the international media report so thoroughly on it, what is almost certainly the world's worst man-made catastrophe, the genocidal campaign against Black Africans by Arab militias being carried out in the Darfur province of Sudan, remains largely unreported and unacted upon. This is to a very large degree because the Arab regimes and some of their friends in Europe and elsewhere, have blocked any concerted international action.


The astute commentator, Mark Steyn (who is a subscriber to this email list) wrote earlier this year on Sudan: "I see the next decade's "never again" story is here."

Future historians might now compare the reaction in South Asia to that in Sudan.

Below, I attach a new end-of-year article titled "The Arab Silence on Darfur Revisited," by Abu Khawla, a human rights activist. Abu Khawla is a pseudonym. He is a Moslem Arab, a Tunisian national now resident in Cairo, and the former director of Amnesty International-Tunisia.

The author says that pan-Arabism is the chief culprit for the lack of Arab reaction to the "horrendous crime being committed by their fellow Arabs in Sudan." In his view, the only effective way to counter the pan-Arab "propaganda of hate-mongering and deceit" is to mobilize an Arab liberal movement.

He writes: "Nearly a quarter million people are already lost, and one million more will follow suit in the coming months, unless urgent action is taken... In our judgment, the Arab silence could only be explained once we understand the true nature of the twin fascisms of Islamism and pan-Arabism that continue to wreak havoc on Arab land, and the impact they are having on the ignorant masses... Animists, Hindus and other "heretics," are all considered "Najus" (filthy), i.e. fit for extermination. Today's animists in Southern Sudan as well as Bah'ai and Ismailite sects in most Islamic countries are learning about it the hard way..."

Journalists on this who wish to interview the author can reach him on Abu200364@hotmail.com.

The publisher of this article, Middle East Transparent (www.metransparent.com) is an Arabic language website aiming to encourage democratic reform in the Arab world. Much of their material is also available in English (www.metransparent.com/english.html)

A number of contributors to that site are also long time subscribers to this email list.


At the end of this email, I also attach a further item from Reuters from four months ago, titled "UN needs to do more to win over Arabs, UN official."

This is an example, as Edward Glass, who sent it to me, points out, of what happens when words lose all meaning. The Beirut office of Reuters begins its piece: "The United Nations needs to do more to win over Arabs and distance itself from a political climate which is corroding its reputation for neutrality, a senior U.N. official said Monday..." and continues "We need to give Arabs a stronger sense of ownership of the U.N."

Try telling that to the people of Darfur.

-- Tom Gross




Before Abu Khawla's article, for subscribers who are new to this list (and leading journalists from around the world continue to ask me to join this list every day), I attach the summaries (only) of two of my dispatches on Sudan from earlier this year:

[Note by Tom Gross]

The anti-Semitism creeping into the coverage of the Sudan situation is found on two levels:

(1) The overt anti-Semitism of the Arab world, such as the statement yesterday in Cairo by the Sudanese Foreign Minister in advance of the meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers, in which he blamed Israel for the fighting in western Darfur.

(2) The more subtle anti-Semitism of western Leftist media. For example, the BBC World Service radio main evening world news (August 3, 2004) played an unchallenged recorded interview concerning Sudan, in which it was stated that "the West under the influence of Zionism is pressuring Sudan while ignoring the dozens of people Israel massacres every day." Israel, of course, does not massacre dozens of people every day, but the BBC likes to leave its hundreds of millions of worldwide listeners with the impression that it does - even in the context of (finally) running reports on Sudan.

There are an estimated 1.2 million internal refugees in Darfur and 200 000 who have crossed the border into Chad. Tens of thousands have been killed and raped on ethnic grounds, sometimes in the most horrific circumstances.

I attach various items concerning Sudan, with summaries first. This is a follow-up to previous references to Sudan on this email list. Today's dispatch is split into two for space reasons.

-- Tom Gross (August 9, 2004)


1. "Sudan foreign minister blames Israel for escalation of Darfur situation" (Al Bawaba, August 8, 2004). "Sudanese Foreign Minister Musstafa Osman Ismail said Israel was escalating the situation in the western area of Darfur, stressing that his country had information to confirm latest media reports that insurgents there were supported by Israel. Ismail made the statement to reporters upon arrival in Cairo Sunday to attend an extraordinary meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers to find a solution to the Darfur crisis...."


Silence on Sudan (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal Europe, August 6, 2004)

"As the killing in the western Sudanese region of Darfur unfolds, there is nothing but chilling silence from Europe's usually vociferous antiwar crowd. The conspicuous silence vis-a-vis the killing fields in Sudan betrays more than just the usual selective concern for world peace. Yes, for the progressive left, it is only the participation of the U.S. that makes a war really objectionable.

... not even the most elastic post-colonialist theory can explain the war in Sudan, where Arabs are massacring black Africans... What's more, in Sudan (Arab) Muslims are ethnically cleansing (non-Arab) fellow Muslims. How do you explain that if you believe in a conspiracy between a right-wing American President and Christian fundamentalists to launch a crusade against the Muslim world?

... Equally, anti-globalization activists have a hard time explaining the Darfur massacre under the template of their bizarre trade theories... so it's best to ignore the dying or – even better – rewrite history to make it fit the movement's ideology... The real reason for any potential military intervention by the U.S. or Britain would be – you guessed it – to grab Sudan's vast oil fields. John Laughland was allowed to present this theory Monday in the Guardian, Britain's flagship paper for opponents of the Iraq war..."

[This Wall Street Journal editorial was written by a subscriber to this email list. I recommend reading this article in full, below.]


Silence on the Arab Street (By Kamel Labidi, July 2, 2004)

"Colin Powell's visit this week to Sudan – where he denounced the government-backed ethnic cleansing in the western region of Darfur and warned of a Rwanda-like genocide in the making – made one thing perfectly clear: The present cycle of horror and devastation in Sudan continues to prompt more concern in Western countries than in the Arab world.

"The victims of this new African tragedy of ethnic slaughter – which erupted more than a year ago but until recently attracted little international attention – are hundreds of thousands of civilians of the Muslim faith. Though Muslim, they are not of the same ethnic origin as their Arab oppressors in Sudan.

"Appalling scenes of torture and killing of civilians, including in mosques; the rape of women of all ages, often in front of relatives; the burning to the ground of scores of villages, and the destruction of water sources in the drought- and poverty-stricken region of Darfur, have for months now been reported by international human-rights groups.

"So far, however, only a few Arab voices, most of them in the beleaguered human-rights community, have warned against these large-scale crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Sudanese military government and the Janjaweed militiamen whom it backs and arms. Unfortunately, these voices have little influence in a region where the media is still in the tight grip of entrenched autocrats and most people are mired in illiteracy, prejudice, poverty and injustice.

"... Arab reaction to the plight of the hundreds of thousands dispossessed, abused and displaced Darfurians is reminiscent of the shocking silence both of the Arab media and civil society that followed the gassing of thousands of Kurds by Iraqi troops led by former dictator Saddam Hussein more than 15 years ago. Such atrocious campaigns of ethnic cleansing in Iraq at the end of the last century and in Sudan today would have prompted deafening official and popular protests in Arab capitals had the victims been of Arab descent and the perpetrators non-Arabs..."



I attach three further items concerning Sudan. There are summaries here only

-- Tom Gross (August 9, 2004)


"Blame the UN cheerleaders," by Mark Steyn (The Australian, July 26, 2004)

I see the next decade's "Never again" story is here. Just as we all agreed the 1994 Rwandan genocide should never be allowed to happen again, so – in a year or two – we'll all be agreed that another 2004 Sudanese genocide should never be allowed to happen again. But right now it is happening, and you can't help wondering where all the great humanitarians are. Alas, Sudan doesn't seem to have much appeal to them, lacking as it does the crucial Bush angle and affording little opportunity for use of words such as "neocons" and "Halliburton".

... But, to the average progressive columnist in the Western world, what matters is who killed you. 30,000 dead Sudanese don't equal one Iraqi prisoner being led around Abu Ghraib on a dog collar. But the minute the Yanks go in and accidentally blow up a schoolhouse, injuring an eight-year-old girl, the Mannes of the world will discover a sudden interest in Africa.

... The USAF could target and bomb the Janjaweed as effectively as they did the Taliban. But then the Not In Our Name crowd would get their knickers in a twist and everyone would complain that it's unlawful unless it's authorised by the UN. The problem is, by the time you've gone through the UN, everyone's dead.

... The UN system is broken beyond repair. The Security Council was unable to agree even on a resolution merely expressing some criticism of the Sudanese Government – China, Pakistan and Algeria scuppered that. In May, even as its proxies were getting stuck into their ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan was elected to a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission..."

[Mark Steyn is a subscriber to this email list.]



Andrew Korvin, of Vancouver, British Columbia, writes in relation to Mark Steyn's column on the Sudan.

Getting away with murder:

Where are the 10 million protesters? Where's the ISM? Where are the Rachel Corrie types? Are there going to be any human shields laying down in front of the janjaweed to protect the black farmers? Is it true that Sean Penn is planning a trip to the Darfur region to see if the Janjaweed are really as bad as the right-wing press claim?

What's Kofi doing? Is he going to bring back the heavy guns to help out ... like Boutros-Boutros Ghali? I've heard so many rumours about an upsurge in leftist condemnation of the Arab imperialism and genocide that something must be brewing ...

Some of my friends are really cynical and claim that leftists and Islamists aren't particularly roused by injustice if they can't blame it on the US or Israel, but I think that's being unfair. I know you're in touch with both sides of the Atlantic... can you confirm the rumours I heard that there's a wellspring of enlightened pacifists ready to denounce the Sudanese gubmint?

Just wondering, thanks.

Andrew Korvin
Vancouver, British Columbia



"Genocide is alive and well in Sudan," (By Yaakov Ahimeir, Ma'ariv, Israel, July 26, 2004).

"Perhaps the world's timid reaction to the genocide in Sudan is because there is no Israeli angle, both the perpetrators and the victims are Moslems. Arabs killing blacks is less spicy than Israel building a barrier... Thousands Moslem Africans are fleeing in the desert heat from Sudan into neighboring Chad. Every single man, woman, child and grandparent, scarred and hungry, has a personal tale of horror suffered at the hands of Arab oppression in Darfur.

... When one observes the tireless efforts invested in solving the conflict here, one needs to ask the following, almost inevitable question, "Where are the proportions? We hear that in Darfur alone, more Moslems have died over the last two months than have died in the "100-year conflict" in this region. Where are all the solutions and road maps, not those exclusively regarding the land of Israel between desert and sea, but regarding a million refugees and tens of thousands of victims murdered by the Arab militia.

... When light-skinned Moslems terrorize and murder dark-skinned Moslems, as their slave trading forbears did, Arab spiritual leaders, poets, co-religionists and the general Arab public sees nothing and hears nothing. And there is no one to cry out, 'End the slaughter! End the burning of villages!'..."


The Arab Silence on Darfur Revisited
By Abu Khawla
December 22, 2004


The catastrophe unfolding these days in Darfur, Western Sudan, is considered to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. According to all credible reports, nearly a quarter million people are already lost, and one million more will follow suit in the coming months, unless urgent action is taken. UN Secretary General Kofi Anan described the matter as a collective massacre of civilians. And US Secretary of State Colin Powell saw in it "indicators and elements that would start to move you towards a genocidal conclusion."

In contrast, a deafening silence was observed throughout the Arab world on the horrendous crime being committed by their fellow Arabs in Sudan. This "puzzle" was explained by Kamel Labidi, in an Op-ed article on the Wall Street Journal of July 5, 2004, by the fact that the voices of the Arab human rights community remain of little influence due to lack of access to the official media. The fact of the matter, however, is that official media is of no relevance to Arabs today, thanks to the advent of independent TV channels and the Internet.

In our judgment, the Arab silence could only be explained once we understand the true nature of the twin fascisms of Islamism and pan-Arabism that continue to wreak havoc on Arab land, and the impact they are having on the ignorant masses.

To obtain credible information, Arabs turn nowadays to satellite TV channels, especially Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, a tool of communications that is so far completely monopolized by Fundamentalists. In the case of Al-Jazeera, Preacher Youssef Al-Qaradhawi (a leading figure of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) is one of its most influential founding members. And Fundamentalists are in charge of its news programs and talk shows. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the radical Sudanese cleric and political leader Hassan Al-Tourabi has had more than 60 appearances on the channel, during the 1990s, when he was in power, against few appearances for Dr. Saadeddine Ibrahim, the leading advocate for democracy in the Arab world. And some others weren't even that lucky. Most Arab secularists and feminists have never had a chance to appear on the channel.

Why did these fundamentalist havens try to hide the truth about the Darfur massacre? For starter, we should notice that the matter wouldn't have raised an eyebrow among Muslim public opinion had the slaughter targeted non-Muslims. Fighting infidels until they either convert to Islam or submit to Muslims as "Dhimmis," i.e., citizens of second class status under Islamic rule, and pay the "Jezya" (a poll tax), is still considered by Islamists to be a religious duty. And the above-mentioned status of Dhimmitude is exclusive to the "peoples of the book," namely Christians and Jews. Animists, Hindus and other "heretics," are all considered "Najus" (filthy), i.e. fit for extermination. Today's animists in Southern Sudan as well as Bah'ai and Ismailite sects in most Islamic countries are learning about it the hard way.

But Darfur is different, since it is a slaughter of Muslims even though they are non-Arabs of African descent. Why? In order to be able to answer this question, we need to make a difference between theory and practice. In theory, Muslims aren't allowed to slaughter other Muslims. The much-vaunted reference here is the Koranic verse stating that "only faith and piety will make a difference between an Arab and an "Ajami" (non-Arab)." This explains to a large extent the historic animosity between Islamism and pan-Arabism. While the latter refers to the Arab nation, Islamists refer to the Islamic "Ummah," considering Arab nationalism as a source of "fitnah" (sedition).

The practice, however, tells a very different story. Slavery is among the most horrendous means by which Arabs subjugated non-Arab Muslims, especially those of African descent. The practice was widespread in Saudi Arabia until the mid-1960s when it was abolished due to intense international pressure.

But despite all these facts, there are no reasons to believe that Islamism is responsible for Darfur. To their credit, both Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya ended up reporting on the massacre, especially after Kofi Anan’s strong statements on the subject, and Hassan Al-Tourabi was reported to be on a hunger strike to protest against the massacre. In addition, informed Arabs have large access to international media like the BBC Arabic Service and international news agencies. So the fact of the matter is that Arabs knew about what was going on in Darfur, but they didn't react. Why?

The chief culprit in this particular case seems to be pan-Arabism, the fascist movement that rose to power half a century ago through military coups. Nasserism took over Egypt, Sudan , Algeria, Northern Yemen, and Libya, while Baathism took care of Syria and Irak. In all these countries, the previous reformist/modernist attempts of the first part of the 20th century came to an end. The whole social strata of people of liberal leaning was decimated. Through intimidation and terror, its members were either silenced at home or forced to emigrate abroad.

And despite pan-Arabism's crushing military defeat in 1967, and its failure to deliver on economic and social matters, the so-called Arab street is still captive to its propaganda. A propaganda that, in many instances, seems to have the support of Arab governments, with the hope that anti-Western diatribes may help deflect the attention of the masses from their own failures.

The only effective way to counter this propaganda of hate-mongering and deceit is to mobilize the Arab liberal movement. That hasn't been very successful so far, especially given the lack of support of the Western democracies. As a result, the ignorant Arab masses will continue to be kept hostage to charlatans of pan-Arabism and Islamism, and other Darfurs may be forthcoming.



[This is the article in Full. From late August, 2004.]

UN needs to do more to win over Arabs, UN official

The United Nations needs to do more to win over Arabs and distance itself from a political climate which is corroding its reputation for neutrality, a senior U.N. official said Monday.

Mark Malloch Brown, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said it was too easy for those sitting in U.N. headquarters in New York to forget that many in the Arab world feel the body had failed them in recent years.

"There is a sense of double standards in the Security Council, the dominance of the U.S. and Britain," Malloch Brown said in an interview in Beirut.

"It gets in the way of us being in the neutral space we need to do our job... Every time we have to put new security measures outside our downtown offices or move to other areas we are losing touch with the very people that are our lifeblood.

"I think it's a very dangerous corrosion of our standing."

After a four-day visit to Lebanon, Malloch Brown said the United Nations needed more Arabs and Muslims working in the organization and to focus on retaining the neutrality it prizes.

"We need to give Arabs a stronger sense of ownership of the U.N., to feel that we are listening to their needs and acting on them," he said. "For some, democracy has become a dirty word because of the way it was used to justify intervention in Iraq."

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.