The mass-murders in Darfur (or Dar Fur, as Carl Geiger Pasha and everyone else used to write it) are not regarded with abhorrence by other Arabs. Nor do other Arab states wish the Arabs who rule Sudan to be prevented from continuing their genocidal activities — and they are doing everything they can, especially in the corridors and coulisses of power at the U.N. and the E.U. and through their extensive network of Western hirelings, collaborators, and fellow-travellers, to block any effective action to stop the Sudanese government until it is too late. Until, that is, enough of the black Africans have been killed, the women raped, the villages burned down, and the remainder forced to straggle into Chad. And even in Chad the harrying by Arab tribesmen continues. That country, too, has become unsettled with a million or more refugees.
Yet there has not been a single resolution by the Arab League, not a syllable of protest by Egypt — Sudan’s political enemy, but certainly not a regime about to protest something as unremarkable and acceptable as the mass killing by Arabs of non-Arabs, in this case black Africans. There has been no “cooperation” by Egypt with the West, nor by another Arab power.
And yet American campuses are full of people brightly demanding that China cease its cooperation with Sudan, that China is the main country to count on to pressure the Sudanese government and there is talk of boycotting the Beijing Olympics in order to force the Chinese government to stop its running of interference for Sudan at the U.N. But running interference, through the use of a veto at the Security Council, is not the same thing as giving the kind of endless behind-the-scenes support as fellow Arab states do to the Sudanese government. American campuses should be full of divestment movements aimed at the most effective collaborators with the Arabs of Sudan: the Arabs of the Arab League states, including “our ally” Egypt. But so far the Arab states have gotten off scot-free.
The lone Arab, Nabil Kassem, who made this documentary, is akin to Kanan Makiya (Samir al-Khalil), who alone among the Arabs publicly denounced the mass-murder of the Kurds (some 182,000) by Saddam Hussein. Kanan Makiya called this “shameful,” but could never quite understand why no other Arabs inside or outside Iraq protested the killing of the Kurds. He is not alone in his failure to understand. The best people in the Muslim world, if they do not become apostates but out of filial piety remain Muslims, never can quite understand, much less analyze for others, what it is that explains certain kinds of behavior.
In the case of the complicity of the Arabs outside Sudan — who have cleverly disguised their support for that regime, their efforts to hinder and delay (very successfully) actions that might have been taken by the U.N. against Sudan during its twenty-year campaign of mass-murder in the southern Sudan, or its several-year-long campaign in Darfur — the explanation is simple: Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism. Islam is the national religion of the Arabs, evolving initially out of pagan Arab lore, and a mishmash of appropriated, and much distorted, figures and stories taken from Judaism and Christianity. The final result was a “faith” that could be used to both justify and promote the conquest, by comparatively primitive Arabs, of much larger numbers of non-Arabs, chiefly Christians and Jews and Zoroastrians. A non-Arab Muslim, until recently and still ideally, reads the Qur’an only in Arabic. Non-Arab Muslim children memorize as much of it as possible — in Arabic. Non-Arab Muslims take as their model a group of seventh-century Arabs and above all, Muhammad, the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. The Sunna itself consists essentially of the ways, the customs and manners, of seventh-century Arabs. Muslims turn Meccatropically five times a day for the canonical prayers; they perform hajj to Mecca; Arabia is the center of their being. It is as if all those who were part of the British Empire, five times a day, turned and prostrated themselves toward London. It is as if every Indian, every black African in a British colony, took an English name, and took some Englishman (possibly someone a bit more modern than a woad-painted Pict from 700 A.D.) as a putative ancestor.
The black African Muslims of Darfur, like the black Africans of the southern Sudan, may be killed without arousing any indignation among all but the tiniest handful of Muslim Arabs, the same tiny handful that might have protested the killing, by Arabs, of the Muslim Kurds.
The reason is one that not even Kanan Makiya, nor Nabil Kassem, can likely face: Islam is the source of, the promoter and vehicle of, this Arab supremacism. Arab supremacism can be of the linguistic and cultural kind, that attempts to ban the Berber language, or to convince Maronites and Copts, not always unsuccessfully, that because they are “users of Arabic” that makes them “Arabs.” Or it can be of the murdering kind that simply wishes to eliminate non-Arabs if they happen to possess something — oil, as in the Kurdish lands and in the southern Sudan, and possibly now water: that vast underground lake discovered by American researchers. Those researchers naively have said that if the waters were to be used for irrigation, this “might solve” the Darfur crisis. Yet if anything, it will only make Darfur that much more desirable to the Arabs, and their insensate desire to remove all the black Africans — through murder — that much greater.
Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism is a theme that must always and everywhere be noted, analyzed, stressed. It is a powerful weapon in dividing Arab Muslims from non-Arab Muslims, as more and more of the latter recognize the inattention to their own histories, their own pasts, once islamization takes place, followed by arabization of varying kinds. And the understanding of Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism has one other great virtue: it happens to be true.