In Sudan, Muslims are killing Muslims; Muslims are destroying mosques; Muslims are desecrating Qur'ans.
When the photographs of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib first emerged, the Muslim world rose up in condemnation. TheOrganization of the Islamic Conference
, for instance, "expressed its strong condemnation of the brutal acts of torture perpetrated against Iraqi prisoners...in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
Yet as the chorus of condemnation loudly rang across the Muslim world, worse crimes were being committedwithin
the Muslim world--crimes that also were in "flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention." As angry fingers were wagged at the West, they passed over vicious genocide being committed in the Darfur region of Western Sudan.
The conflict in Darfur has a long history. The Darfur region is a very poor region almost entirely dedicated to subsistence agriculture and livestock herding for domestic and export purposes. The Fur and other ethnic African peoples of Darfur have farmed the most fertile parts of central Darfur for generations. The Northern part of Darfur is mostly desert, and the ethnic Arab populations of Northern Darfur bring their flocks to graze and water in the south every spring.
This has led to conflicts between the Fur and the Arabs. The Fur and other African groups of Darfur formed self-defense groups in the 1990s to protect their crops, homes, and families from increasing incursions by the Arab raiders, many of whom have also been armed over the past decades.
In early 2003, armed conflict broke out between two non-Arab rebel groups in Darfur and the Sudanese government forces. The Sudanese government attacked the civilian populations associated with the rebel groups. Human Rights Watch, in a report released in May 2004, accused the Sudanese government of ethnic cleaning in Darfur. The report documents how "Sudanese government forces have overseen and directly participated in massacres, summary executions of civilians, burnings of towns and villages, and the forcible depopulation of wide swaths of land long-inhabited by the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups [of the Darfur region]."