Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Where are the Muslims protesting about Darfur?

By: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

To our eternal shame, it has fallen upon Hollywood stars to speak for the voiceless victims

Published: 18 September 2006
from Muslims Rescuing Darfur site

Some weeks back, I wrote that anti-Arab racism fuelled the brutal actions of the modern Israeli state and those who wholeheartedly supported the bombings of Gaza and the Lebanon. I criticised Maureen Lipman's remarks on BBC TV, which suggested she thought Arab lives were cheaper than Israeli lives because militant Arabs encourage suicide bombers. Ms Lipman came back forcefully, clarifying her position and asking why critics of Israel ignored other, worse abuses. I stand by the views I expressed, but her question pierces my head as the final solution gathers pace in Darfur.

Where is the shrill outrage when Muslims kill and ethnically cleanse other Muslims from their meagre homes? Why is the anti-African racism of the Arab Sudanese government and militia not damned by Muslims? Where are the perpetually appalled Muslims today?
Oh, they are otherwise engaged, denouncing Pope Benedict's speech in Germany, during which he seemingly approved of the 14th-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel Palaeologus, married to the daughter of a virulently anti-Muslim Serb despot, based in Constantinople, humiliated by the Ottomans who besieged his city. Not an objective man, then, who proclaimed the Prophet Mohamed brought "only evil and inhuman things, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

The Pope was wrong to say what he did, and is injudicious to believe what he does - that Christianity is more rational and reasonable than Islam. These self-righteous Christians conveniently ignore the Inquisition, the Crusades and Jesus' "I come not to send peace but a sword". Both faiths have the propensity to fall into violence; both are capable of bringing to humans luminous insights and peace. Pope Benedict has apologised, but that will not be the end of it. As street protests grow, people may well die because they heard from someone that the Catholic leader said something that was against our Prophet. That is all it takes for the rage to burn.

Talk of displacement activities. The livid crowd from London to Pakistan who extracted the apology care nothing about the torture by Muslim governments of their own dissidents, and remain blissfully indifferent to the maltreatment of Christians, Bahais, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists in Islamic countries. They cannot bear to accept that, although our war on Iraq has intensified sectarian hatreds, the abominable killings of civilians are carried out by Shias and Sunnis in the name of their own-brand Allah.

Now comes the greatest test of their selective morality, the genocide in Darfur. And they have already failed the test, dishonourably and conspicuously, by withholding condemnation of the most systematic and planned annihilation of a Muslim population in the 21st century.
Between 300,000 and 500,000 black-skinned Africans in Darfur have died already. Countless women have been raped and tortured, some killed. Three million are dispossessed and driven out of safe enclaves. Three years ago, rebels in some villages rose against what they felt to be unjust policies of the government in Khartoum. They too shed blood, but the state response was massively more disproportionate than even the recent Israeli reactions to Hizbollah provocations in the Lebanon.

The UN describes it as "the world's worst humanitarian disaster". Peter Takirambudde, the African director of Human Rights Watch, says: "Government forces are bombing villages with total disregard for civilian lives" to weaken villages and empower the pitiless Janjaweed militia.
Eyewitness accounts have emerged of tiny children who were raped over and over before they were burnt to death. A failed asylum-seeker in the UK has shown me validated documentation of how her ankle was cut so she couldn't run away, allowing the militia to sexually abuse her - which they did for hours.
It is set to get worse as African Union peacekeepers - only 7,000, helpless and hopeless - are due to depart and the Sudanese government seems ready to chuck out the UN. Witnesses and truth are being banished too - 12 aid workers have been killed since May, journalists and peacekeepers have had their records and computers confiscated.

The West operates double-standards, and we hear about these everyday, but what about the double-standards of Muslims across the world? They who turn their heads away when they should be wailing and mourning with the dead of Darfur, screaming for international protection, just as they do when moved by pictures of the distraught in Iraq and Palestine?

To our eternal shame, it has fallen upon Hollywood stars such as George Clooney and British celebrities such as Annie Lennox, and other prominent people of conscience, including Jewish human rights campaigners, to speak for the voiceless victims. A letter has been written to Mr Blair signed by many of them.

Guess what? There seem to be no signatories from all those too numerous Muslim organisations always on the lookout for the slightest sign of Islamophobia or unacceptable western and Israeli policies. Like I said, they are too busy getting the Pope on to his knees for his unwise words to attend to the killing fields of Darfur. Allah, they must believe, will thank them for this diligence.
y.alibhai-brown@ independent.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Darfur Solar Cooker Project

I've been receiving such positive responses from Lou Ann Merkle's Solar Cooker Project for Darfur from the Darfur Alert Coalition (our sister group in Philadelphia that Mohamed Ibrahim co-founded) that I've included the guidelines here:


As we hear so much bad news coming from Darfur along with the international community's complicity we could easily despair. In the meantime, women and children are trying to survive in the camps. So we?claim hope because families are counting on us. DAC is thrilled to offer an opportunity to DO SOMETHING NOW that will directly help the women and children in the camps. Please read the info below about DAC's Solar Cooker Project.




THE MISSION: The Darfur Alert Coalition is proud to assist Solar Cookers International, a California nonprofit, and KoZon (Cooking with the Sun) of the Netherlands in their refugee-camp project in Chad. The project is providing women in Iridimi refugee camp with thousands of solar cookers. This simple life-changing step protects them from rape and other forms of violence by ending their need to leave the camp to forage for cooking fuel. In addition, the women generate income by assembling the cookers in a workshop at the camp and by providing training to others. The cookers have also been used successfully in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

THE REFUGEE CRISIS: More than 250,000 Darfur refugees (mostly women and children) live in camps in Chad, across the border from war-torn Sudan. There is little or no security beyond the camp perimeter, and girls and women who leave to forage for firewood are often beaten, raped and branded by the Sudanese-supported janjaweed militia. The Iridimi camp, holding about 20,000 refugees, is in an area of Chad with abundant sun but devoid of vegetation. Very little firewood or other fuel is supplied by relief agencies working in Iridimi.

THE COOKER SOLUTION: Through this project, refugees in Iridimi are given a simple solar cooker called a CooKit that converts sunlight into heat to cook food and purify water. Being made of cardboard and aluminum foil, it is lightweight and easy to assemble. After training, the women get two CooKits per family (one for rice or other grain/starch, and the other for sauce or vegetables). The cookers provide many benefits: They help the environment by lessening the uprooting of trees and brush. Their fire-free cooking means no more smoke inhalation and eye irritation. Ending the need for firewood frees up considerable time and money that families can devote to improving their livelihood. Eighty women trainers have successfully taught about 600 families in Iridimi how to use CooKits. About 1,200 cookers have been distributed thus far in the project, with the goal of 6,000 for the camp. Once that is completed, KoZon and Solar Cookers may replicate the project in two other refugee camps in Chad. For more information visit:

Many of the refugees in Chad had only one request: "Don't forget us," they said.

YES! I want to bring solar cookers to the women in the Iridimi Camp.

Name ___________________________________________________
Phone_________________________ email_____________________
___$30 to buy 2 stoves for 1 family.
___$55 to buy stoves & training for 1 family.

__ $110 to buy stoves & training for 2 families.


Checks should be payable to Darfur Alert Coalition, with Solar Cooker Project indicated in the memo field. Acknowledgment of your tax-deductible donation will be mailed to you. Solar Cookers International also will send you its newsletter with progress reports and updates from the field.

Mail your check and this form to: Darfur Alert Coalition, P.O. Box 42036, Philadelphia Pa. 19101

Next W. Mass. Darfur Coalition Meeting: Jan. 16th

The next Western Mass. Darfur Coalition Meeting will be onTuesday, January 16th, 2007
at 7 pm -- at Fanny Rothschild's house at 26 Morgan Circle in Amherst.

Please mark your calendars and me know if you can come.

All the best to you and thank you for all your hard work and dedication. Please email ideas to for what you'd like to work on in our next phase so I can put them in the Jan. 16th meeting agenda.

Thank you so much, Fanny Rothschild

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Amherst Joins the Divestment campaign!

Actor Don Cheadle joined hundreds of students at the University of California in support of targeted Sudan divestment. In March, 2006, the University restricted holdings in nine "offending" companies. see this link:

Dear Darfur Supporters,

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!! The Town of Amherst, at a Special Town Meeting last night Nov. 1st, voted to take action to end the genocide in Darfur. The resolution is attached here.

Thank you, Martha and Irwin Spiegelman for working so tirelessly to get the article on the agenda of the Special Amherst Town Meeting last night and organizing a strong lineup of speakers, starting with Martha herself who gave a clear, powerful argument for the importance of a message about Darfur that will resonate from the town to the state to the international communities. Mohamed Ibrahim Elgadi followed with a moving testimony of his abhorrent imprisonment by the Government of Sudan and the importance of divesting from companies who contribute directly to the daily torture and murders by these perpetrators. Select Board member Anne Awad argued for the resolution (that was unanimously supported by the Select Board) by first letting us all know that our community is privileged to have heroes like Mohamed and Magda among us; I felt both proud and teary-eyed upon hearing her words about our two dear, tireless members.

Meanwhile, the ARHS Stand members came in full force -- their presence in such numbers communicates so much to the town that our community places Darfur in the forefront of their concerns. And thank you, Juliana Morgan-Trostle, for trying so hard to be heard at the Town Meeting. We strongly recommend that you submit your speech (by email) as a letter to the Editor of The Amherst Bulletin. Your voice will be heard!

Note that the attached resolution says:

"that copies of this resolution be distributed to the President, members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, other members of Congress in positions of leadership of the House and Senate and committees with jurisdiction over foreign policy and commerce, the Governor of Massachusetts and members of Amherst’s delegation to the state legislature, and other leaders of the state legislature as deemed appropriate..."

Our next move should be (1) to communicate our success to other communities around Massachusetts so that all our individual town voices will resonate together in urging the Mass. legislature to pass the Sudanese Divestment Bill that will be brought back in the upcoming session; and (2) to disseminate our resolution even further, around the country, in order to encourage other towns to create a lot of noise about divestment, UN peacekeepers and the ICC. As we know so well, grassroots work is so crucial. Again, thank you Martha and Irwin.

So email me your ideas on ways to spread the word. I will contact my colleagues at Save Darfur -- national and Massachusetts group -- and give them our resolution. Other ideas?

Also upcoming event: Darfur Panel at UMass (along with Darfur Children's Art Exhibit -- it's really traveling!!!) on Wed., Nov. 15th, 7 pm (mark the date -- details to come -- Magda and Mohamed are among the speakers; if you want an in depth analysis of the current situation in Darfur, hear it from them). Organized by our member, Stephanie Aines (contact her at

Come discuss the dissemination of the resolution and other issues at next meeting:
Tuesday, Nov. 7th at 7 pm at Fanny's, 26 Morgan Circle, Amherst (directions attached).

Fanny Rothschild
Western Mass. Darfur Coalition

Thursday, October 26, 2006

UN Representative ordered to leave Sudan

A convoy of Sudanese refugees arriving at a safer camp deeper inside Chad, from camps near the border. ©UNHCR/H.Caux

On Sunday, the government of Sudan ordered the UN Special Representative Jan Pronk to leave Sudan by today. They accused him of "psychological warfare" after Pronk commented that the army's morale had suffered after two major defeats in the Darfur region since September. This decision by Sudan has been met with negative reactions by the UN, the African Union, the United States, and others. Mr. Pronk has returned to New York for consultations with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. UN officials say Mr. Pronk's status is unchanged.With the peace treaty in "disarray," experts in the region fear that the Sudanese government will resort to air raids on villages along the border. While the attacks target suspected rebel hideouts, it is often innocent civilians and refugees who are the victims.

Monday, October 09, 2006

محاكمة البشير في نيويورك ....!
In this post you can read writings of 3 members of our W. Ma Darfur Coalition: Abu Asal; Tumadir; and Mohamed. The post title in Arabic is محاكمة البشير في نيويورك ....!
which translated to The Trial of al-Bashir in New york...!
The post is mix of Arabic and English writings, and was visted by more than 2393 vistirs (as of today)..

W. Ma Darfur Coalition to Join the JOG campaign

"The Judgment on Genocide ( is a presentation constructed to dramatize the urgent need for UN peacekeepers in Darfur. We aim to educate the public in further detail of the decades-long crimes of the Sudanese government against their own citizens and the failure of the international community to end the genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur."

Hundreds of cities around the US is participating in delivering the indictment to president al-Bashir. Amherst Town, represented by WMADC, is among those active communities and commited to send at least 100 indictments.
Go to this link to participate:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Darfur Events in October, 2006

We are overflowing with events on Darfur the month of October (please mark your calendars):

1) Thurs, Oct. 5th, DarfurFast Day: monthly meeting at 5:30 pm and potluck (following at sunset/6:30 pm) to break the DarfurFast at Fanny Rothschild's; 26 Morgan Circle in Amherst (email for directions to

2) Mon., Oct 2nd - Wed. Oct. 18th, Darfur Children's Art Exhibit at Arms Library at Main and Bridge Sts. in Shelburne Falls.

At the closing on Wed. Oct. 18th, our Magda Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim will talk at 7 pm. Children are invited to make drawings for children in Darfur from 6 to 7 pm.

3) Tues., Oct. 3rd --
Nicholas Kristof (!) will speak at Amherst College, Johnson Chapel at 6:30 pm.

4) Sat., Oct. 28th Panel discussion along with Children's Art Exhibit at Springfield College from 1 - 4 pm; our Magda Ahmed is on the panel (flyer is coming).

Monday, April 03, 2006

Darfur National Speaking Tour Comes to Amherst!


Speaking Tour

comes to amherst

Saturday, April 22nd
at 4 pm

Cole Assembly Room
Converse Hall

Reception to follow

As Sudan’s deepening Darfur crisis cries out for world attention, a coalition of human-rights and religious groups is launching a special speakers tour to raise public awareness about the ongoing, systematic atrocities in western Sudan and the humanitarian catastrophe it has caused as well as the need for a massive response from both government and private sectors.


Sponsored by Western Mass. Darfur Coalition, Amherst College Chapter of STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur), Amherst Human Rights Commission, American Friends Service Committee, Amherst Chapter 128 of Amnesty International, SAGE, and Smith College Darfur Coalition.

CONTACT: Fanny Rothschild, Western Mass. Darfur Coalition; 413-687-8036

Thursday, March 09, 2006

April 7th: Darfur Up Close -- Panel Discussion at Smith College

We are co-sponsoring a panel discussion with Youth Action International and Amnesty International on:


entitiled "Darfur: Up Close"
in the Neilson Browsing Room
at Smith College Library.

One of the organizers of this panel is our
own Sirein Awadalla.

Panelists include:
-- Zeinab Aeyga, Director of Sautiyetu, an African Reproductive Health Organization based in NYC
-- David Morse, Quaker Darfur activist based in Conn.
-- our own Magda Ahmed, Sudanese expert from Sudan, also member of Amherst Human Rights Commission, AI and AFSC.

They will discuss the current crisis for women and children in the refugee camps in Darfur.