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Applauding Al Bashir | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Media representatives clapped when Sudanese President Omar al Bashir arrived at Doha airport, according to news from the Qatari capital where the Arab summit was held a few days ago. The summit ended demonstrating support for al Bashir and rejecting the warrant for his arrest issued by the ICC.

Why did some Arab media representatives applaud al Bashir?

There is no doubt that such a reaction causes confusion and frustration.

Why do the Arabs feel that defying the West and international justice is more important than the lives of hundreds of thousands of victims in Darfur and in other Arab and Muslim countries?

It is one of the several brazen examples of our humane and moral sensitivity as it seems that the human right reports issued by organisations that monitor the bloodshed and displacement of the people of Darfur and the rape of Darfur’s women, have not moved anybody – we seem to be content with turning a blind eye in belief that this is nothing but a conspiracy and a pack of lies.

It seems that the attack launched by Mustafa Osman Ismail, advisor to the Sudanese president, against the Arab media, which he described as foolish for failing to distinguish between national security and a media scoop, has paid off. This is evident in the official and media welcome that was given to al Bashir, who visited a number of African capitals before landing in Doha to receive such a welcome.

As the Doha summit came to an end, the Arab League’s Secretary-General Amr Moussa read out that the Arabs wanted Israel to be tried for the war crimes it committed against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It is indeed a righteous and a necessary demand but it has lost its credibility.

When Moussa read this out, not one of the media representatives who applauded al Bashir put up their hands and asked how Arabs could demand justice from Israel whilst at the same time they ignore anything related to the concept of justice by supporting a person who needs to prove himself innocent, not only to the international community but to the Sudanese first and foremost.

The Arabs feel no shame in remaining silent about what happened in Darfur. Some seek to justify Arab negligence of the suffering of others by saying that our culture and democracy are not as developed as the West and that we have a great deal of problems in Palestine and Iraq. But does this justify the cold-blooded manner with which we deal with the tragedy of the Darfurian people? Is there an element of racism in the fact that we give all our attention to Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq but we do not feel the same towards the Darfur crisis, the facts and figures of which show that it is much worse than other crises?

If we are seeking justice for Gaza then shouldn’t we be doing the same for Darfur’s victims?

We are not casting accusations against al Bashir and this is what the Arab press should refrain from doing if it wants to uncover the truth of what has happened in Darfur. What is required however is that the press applies pressure so that justice for the Darfur victims can be achieved.

There is no doubt that the journalists who applauded al Bashir did not have this goal in mind.