UPDATE - 7th November 2011
It's been over three years since I wrote this piece, and nothing has changed.
I was with some international aid workers today, who had extensive recent experience of Darfur. They told me this is what happens.
Every day, thousands and thousands of women venture a long way out of the camps to fetch water and firewood. A small percentage of these women are raped each day. But that amounts to HUNDREDS of women EVERY day. It's become completely normal.
There's nothing more that I can say which wouldn't be a stream of vituperation and abuse against the Sudanese government and every other unconcerned so-called Islamic government in the region.
The hypocrisy of so-called Islamic countries with respect to Darfur enrages me. Without a doubt, the government of Sudan is complicit in genocide – a genocide based on the apparent superiority of Arab Muslims over African Muslims. What is happening in Darfur is an abomination by any set of values – whether Islamic, Christian, Western, secular, humanist.
So-called Islamic governments assert that the International Criminal Court has no right to charge Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide, strongly implying that this is part of a Western campaign of hatred against Islam.
Yet the same ‘Islamophobic’ Western institutions went to great lengths to hunt down and now prosecute Radovan Karadzic, for the crime of genocide against … Muslims. Where are the cries from co-called Islamic governments about this Court’s lack of legitimacy to prosecute Karadzic?
And who in the Islamic world honours the memory of the two courageous CIA agents who lost their lives trying to hunt down Radovan Karadzic? Their bodies were never found. God only knows what was done to them. I appreciate what they did and may they rest in peace.
(Oh wait! That can’t be right! The evil West hates Islam and wants to destroy Muslims, doesn’t it?)
The reality is that much of the Islamic world is still entrenched in mindless tribalism, which is completely against the principles of Islam, but the hypocrisy of this is beyond their understanding.
If I had my way, Western forces would pour into Darfur with overwhelming firepower: helicopter gunships would incinerate those murderous Junjaweed (I’d feel sorry for the horses); armoured vehicles would surround the camps to protect the refugees and secure the supply of aid. Any Sudanese forces who tried to oppose this would be sent fleeing back to Khartoum. It seems so simple.
Fortunately, I am not a politician, I have no control over any military forces and this is not my higher-self speaking – it is my gut instinctively responding. (My higher-self knows that violence, as a response to violence, cannot bring peace.)
I truly believe – whatever one might think of him and his past foreign policy errors – that President Bush would like to fix this problem from a purely ethical perspective (nothing to do with oil security). But he can’t, because of Muslim tribalism and egotism. The presence of any more American (or any Western) boots on so-called Muslim soil anywhere is just going to generate further waves of violent, unthinking rage across the whole world, as the dark players use every such event for their own political and tribal ends. We have slipped into a mindless polarization and every action is viewed through such a lenses, which obscures the sacrifice of CIA agents in the pursuit of a mass murderer of Muslims. This just can’t fit into the picture.
So the pitiful refugees of Darfur continue to be starved, beaten, raped and killed at the whim of horse-riding savages and their well-dressed patrons in Khartoum, and we do nothing. This has been happening for years now.
But, there is something which could be done. It involves no weapons, no warships, no damaging sanctions which strangle a fragile economy and hurt the innocent.
Every year, the government of Saudi Arabia issues pilgrimage visas for Muslims from other countries to visit Mecca. These are allocated by a quota system for each country.
As long as the government of Sudan is complicit in this un-Islamic genocide and oppression of African Muslims, then no pilgrimage visas should be issued to Sudan. It’s simple, no-one gets hurt and it’s a matter of principle. The people of Sudan need to focus their efforts on ensuring that they have a morally upright government – one which honours the Islamic principles of racial equality, human rights and social justice. That’s far more important than any individual making the Hajj or Umra (lesser pilgrimage). Until that happens, no-one from Sudan should be permitted to make the Pilgrimage – they have far more urgent matters to deal with.
Let’s see how long Omar Hassan al-Bashir can stay in power, if his people aren’t allowed to secure their places in Paradise by making the Hajj.
Of course, this would require our friends the Saudis – the Guardians of the Holy Cities – to take a simple, Islamic moral stand, one which involves no deals for fighter planes or AWACs.
I won’t hold my breath.
Expected Saudi response:
“You do not understand. This is our religion. We cannot bring politics into it. We have to be neutral.”
“Your Majesty/Highness/Excellency … this is not about politics. It’s about the murder of innocent Muslims. The people who are doing this have to be sent a message that this is unacceptable and un-Islamic. How can you sit back and do nothing?