Women protest in Sudan
Photo: AFP
Darfur: Armed Sudani youth
Photo: AFP
Zohir Andreus

Ashamed to be Arab

Op-ed: How can Arabs slam occupation but not care about lashing of women in Sudan?

A busy street in the middle of the day in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Dozens of people gather and anxiously wait to watch the execution of a verdict imposed on a local woman who dared wear pants. Several police officers lead the criminal to the square and force her to kneel, on all fours. She screams for help, but there’s no one there to save her.


One of the police officers starts to flog her. Her screams and sighs make no difference. On the contrary, it appears her response gives the policeman pleasure. He continues to beat her as his law enforcement colleagues chuckle.


Another policeman approaches the woman and joins the flogging. He aims for the most intimate parts of her body. The judge who sentenced her is on hand as well, to make sure the punishment is fully served.


A minute and a half of horror was enough. Whoever documented this stomach-turning event apparently feared that the modesty police would move on to take care of him as well. Since then, more than 10 million people watched the nauseating clip online.


Faced with these images, I’m ashamed to be Arab. I have nothing in common with the judge, the floggers, or the spectators at the square, because this bunch has no connection whatsoever, directly or indirectly, to humanity, feelings, and private or collective freedoms.


Why did the Arab media go silent? Why didn’t the most popular station, al-Jazeera, dedicate a special broadcast to discuss the event? Doesn’t disregarding the incident add insult to injury?


Do me a favor, my Arab brothers and sisters, according to reports by human rights groups, a thousand flogging sessions take place in Sudanese squares every day. A thousand women kneel on all fours and become humiliated, beaten animals as a crowd watches, to scare the masses.


Where are the intellectuals?

Our national and moral duty is to raise a hue and cry against these barbaric acts. We condemn despicable acts by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, protest, demand commissions of inquiry, justify the indictment of criminals at international courts, publish countless articles, and dedicate hours of airtime to discussing the problems of occupation. Yet despite the injustices of the roadblocks and arrests, the occupation has never resorted to lashes at the square.


Moreover, while IDF soldiers view the Palestinians as enemies, we Arabs abuse ourselves, and with lashes at the square, who even needs enemies?


How long will we remain indifferent? Why are we, members of the great Arab nation, conducting ourselves with duplicity? What prevents us from enlisting to the cause en masse? Where did the intellectuals disappear? Where are the human rights champions?


Arab human beings are not objects, and the same is true for Arab women. We all have the right to be free. Look around you: The people of South America managed to defeat and expel the rulers who abused them.


We must not reconcile ourselves to the grim state of affairs whereby we are captives in the hands of dark forces that make cynical use of religion. Should the Arab nation fail to regain its senses and work to completely separate religion and state, in every state, its condition – which is grave as it is – will continue to worsen. At that point, no resuscitation efforts will help.


Indeed, the takeover of fundamentalist Islam is a certain recipe for the Arab nation’s downfall.


The writer is the editor in chief of Arab newspaper Ma Alhadath



פרסום ראשון: 12.21.10, 11:07
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