Darfur: Two measures for Muslim corpses

UN Watch in the News

Noga Emmanuel
The Suburban
September 3, 2008

In last week’s Suburban edition, P.A. Sevigny drew readers’ attention to Alexandre Trudeau’s documentary on Darfur, which concluded with the question posed by an old priest: “How long can this go on?”

My position is that it can go on forever. And the reasons why are in full sight of anyone who wishes to look.
Two years ago, Andre Glucksmann, the French philosopher, wrote an article entitled “The Jerusalem syndrome,” which said: “On the scales of world opinion, some Muslim corpses are light as a feather, and others weigh tonnes. Two measures, two weights?  Why do the 200,000 slaughtered Muslims of Darfur not arouse even half a quarter of the fury caused by 200-times fewer dead in Lebanon? Must we deduce that Muslims killed by other Muslims don’t count–whether in the eyes of Muslim authorities or viewed through the bad conscience of the west?”

In an Aug. 6, 2008 column in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Ittihad, Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former dean of Islamic law at the University of Qatar and prominent liberal intellectual, wrote:

“Following the indictments issued against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, Arab Lawyers’ Union president Sameh Ashour headed a delegation that hastily flew to Khartoum, where he met with Al-Bashir and declared the Arab lawyers’ solidarity with Sudan in confronting the plot against the Arab peoples.”

And continues: “We will not be hearing the voice of the Lawyers’ Union, which mobilized to defend accused presidents, [speaking out] for the weak and the marginalized. 300,000 people were killed in Darfur, and … two million fled their homes after their villages were destroyed by the Sudan-backed Arab Janjaweed militias. Who is for them? Who is for the widows? Who is for the orphans? Who is for the displaced?

“These victims are all Muslims, and their only offense is that they are not Arab, the ethnicity of their rulers! If they find no support among those who are supposed to defend rights and help the weak, then to whom can they turn for shelter and protection? Is the international community to be accused if it intervenes to extend a helping hand?”

He need not worry, for the international community has outsourced the Darfur genocide to its UN Human Rights Council, which is dominated by Arab and other Muslim countries, and is all too busy passing condemnations of human rights abuses by Israel instead of dealing with the massive killings in Darfur.

More recently we were informed by Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director, and one of Canada’s unsung heroes, that a declaration adopted on Aug. 26, 2008, by an African regional meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, “fails to address racial and ethnic crimes committed by Sudan, tramples international human rights guarantees on free speech, places Islam above all other religions, and targets Israel alone, implying that it is uniquely racist.”

Well, then. Why are the hundreds of thousands of murdered victims in Darfur, the raped women, the mutilated children, the millions expelled, why are they shunted aside and ignored, while the Palestinian cause is privileged by the Arab world? Why is the Palestinian cause so popular in certain circles, while so little attention is given to other truly suffering people, the Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, or the murdered masses in Darfur?

Must we deduce, as Andre Glucksmann suggests, that “Muslims killed by other Muslims don’t count?”

We might glean a possible answer for this enigma from something the recently-departed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, in a moment of unguarded candour, said: “Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you, not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because the Jews are the centre of attention.”

This is the closest admission I have ever seen from a Palestinian leading light acknowledging, albeit without actually naming the disease, the role of anti-Semitism in the popularity of pro-Palestinian sentiment.

If Israel were not Jewish, perhaps Palestinian suffering, mostly self-inflicted, would have been seen for what it is, so that Darfurian victims would have been given the prominence and urgency that their catastrophic plight merits. If some of the publicity, pity, and human resources, dominated by the Palestinians in the awareness of world opinion, were to be re-directed to provide relief and justice for Darfur, the old priest in Trudeau’s documentary would not have had to ask: “How long can this go on?”

Noga Emmanuel is a Montreal writer and started “The Contentious Centrist” blog.

Copyright 2008, The Suburban
Original URL: http://www.thesuburban.com/content.jsp?ctid=1000002&cnid=1016242


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