The Blog

Embracing Genocide

The Arab League honors the butcher of Sudan.

12:00 AM, Apr 3, 2009 • By JOSEPH LOCONTE
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No democracy, including the United States and Israel, can claim moral purity with regards to its foreign policy. America betrays its ideals when it ignores human rights abuses in pursuit of national security, as it did with its early embrace of Saddam Hussein. Some defenders of Israel seem indifferent to the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Israel's fight against terrorism in Gaza, or oblivious to the destructive effects of its occupation on the lives of ordinary Palestinians. "The Arab people are fed up with their dictators, including President al-Bashir," says Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. "However, they are all very dismayed by the double standards exhibited by the International Criminal Court."

Arab dismay, where it is genuine, nevertheless seems misplaced. A religious culture that cannot condemn ethnic cleansing and genocide within its own ranks is not merely a problem for the international community. It is an ongoing scandal for the Muslim world--a spiritual crisis of its own making. Egyptian columnist Kamal Ghobrial predicted earlier this year that Arab leaders, citing the Palestinians and claiming a global conspiracy against Muslims, would embrace al-Bashir if he ventured to the Arab summit. The crimes of the Sudanese leader "outraged everyone--except, of course, the Arabs, who are outraged only in specific circumstances," Ghobrial complained, as reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "It turns out that the Arab reaction to atrocities depends upon who the perpetrator is."

The specifically religious obscenity that the Sudanese president represents should not be ignored: a Muslim who brandishes the Koran as he justifies the rape, torture, and murder of other Muslims. While al-Bashir was being hailed by his Arab "brothers," the new U.S. envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, was in the country trying to get relief agencies back into Darfur to help keep alive thousands of ordinary villagers who have suffered under his reign. For his part, Omar al-Bashir was apparently in a worshipful mood during his foreign trip. He performed a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, where he visited the holy city of Mecca. One can only wonder at the content of his prayers, and at the deity who would welcome them.

Joseph Loconte is a senior research fellow at The King's College in New York City and a frequent contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.