Thursday, November 30, 2006

should muslims in north america be more involved in the issue of darfur?

blatantly swiped from the Ihsan blog: Should Muslims in North America Be More Involved in the Issue of Dar Fur? originally posted by Ayman H Fadel.

My perception is that we are not taking the issue of the suffering of Muslims in Dar Fur in Sudan seriously enough. I have a number of theories, but I'm more looking for feedback on this issue:

1. Are there significant efforts North American Muslims are making to improve the situation there?
2. We are not making significant efforts because:
  1. Fur (the primary ethnic group suffering in the area) are not well-represented among North American Muslims.
  2. A general discounting of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. Muslim U.S. citizens should be more concerned about preventing harm the U.S. government is causing before preventing foreign governments from doing harm.
  4. North American Muslims doubt that there is a true humanitarian crisis and suspect there is a plot to weaken the country of Sudan.
  5. There is genuine concern, but really there is no good solution given the demographic, geographical and political circumstances. Therefore there is limited action.
  6. We are concerned, but we are having difficulty cooperating with other North American organizations involved in this issue.

My own guess is that there is a combination of most of these factors in our underinvolvement. I personally believe that the best option is a strengthening of the African Union's involvement rather than the United Nations. In fact, an Associated Press report dated November 16, 2006 reports on moves towards such measures. But I am not an expert in this, and the primary United States-based advocacy organizations such as SaveDarfur have, to my understanding, called for a United Nations peacekeeping mission because the African Union is not able to undertake such a large mission.

Islamic Society of North America Statement of May 2, 2006

Links from Islamic Relief

Other Resources
University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Podcast "Voices on Genocide Prevention" (this link is not working as of the time of writing, but I've subscribed to this podcast through iTunes for almost a year.)


Abu Zahra said...

Speaking from my own POV, I can say that it's difficult to understand the crisis, and that, in turn, makes it more difficult to take a position. No doubt, we can give money to charity NGOs to support the suffering, but peace-keeping missions? Who is fighting whom? Who is to blame?

Are not both sides Muslim? That makes it even more difficult to understand. We've seen ethnic cleansing in Africa before, on massive scales. Does the presence of foreign troops actually solve the problem? Perhaps the current conflict in Iraq would persuade us to the contrary.

No lasting peace can be achieved through war. Instead of sending in troops, send in diplomats. Sometimes we act as if robots (or cylons, if you prefer) are pulling the triggers. No, even the "bad guys" are human. We must reason with them. Surely they are not just killing for the sake of killing.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in learning more about Darfur and raising some of the questions discussed in this blog posting are invited to attend the following event.

Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow will discuss and answer questions about the worsening situation in Darfur and neighboring Chad at a live, virtual 3-D event in the on-line community Second Life. The landmark program will be open to the press and the public without charge, on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, from 2 PM to 3 PM
(Eastern Time)/ 9 AM to 10 AM (Second Life Time).

Also speaking about the Darfur crisis at the event in Second Life will be:

John Heffernan, who has traveled extensively throughout Sudan and the region, coauthored the 2006 report “Darfur: Assault on Survival” for Physicians for Human Rights,and serves as Director of the Genocide Prevention Initiative for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, the sponsor of the program;

Ron Haviv, the award-winning photojournalist, whose images of Darfur are part of the virtual event;

Ronan Farrow, who has served as a UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth in Sudan, as a representative of the Genocide Intervention Network, and has written extensively about the situation in Darfur;

Bill Lichtenstein, president of Lichtenstein Creative Media, and Senior Executive Producer of the national, weekly public radio series The Infinite Mind, who will moderate.

The event will take place at a virtual replica of "Our Walls Bear Witness - Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?” the powerful, outdoor photography exhibition highlighting images of the Darfur crisis by leading photojournalists that were projected onto the exterior of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC during Thanksgiving Week 2006.

Mia Farrow just returned from Chad, following three earlier trips to Darfur. "We're seeing atrocities of an indescribable kind … [with people] clustered under trees, dazed and terrified,” she told the Associated Press. “The situation continues to deteriorate, and ending this human catastrophe will require the engagement of citizens from all walks of life. I am proud to be working with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in calling attention to genocide unfolding on our watch,” said Ms. Farrow, who will be returning to the region in February 2007.

The event in Second Life is being held at The Infinite Mind virtual broadcast center, and will be simultaneously broadcast in two other locations in Second Life: Camp Darfur, and Global Kids, on the Second Life teen grid. The virtual “Our Walls Bear Witness - Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?" photography exhibit will be open in Second Life until January 31, 2007.

For more information about attending the virtual event in the on-line community Second Life visit