NYT Darfur Story Mum on Muslims Persecuting Christians
George Clooney has co-written an important, however incomplete, op-ed on the situation in East Africa.
George Clooney may be many things, but unconcerned with the decade-long atrocities that have taken place in the Darfur region of the Republic of Sudan is not one of them. For many years, the renowned actor has done much to alert the Western to the Islamic government’s genocide of the predominantly Christian minority in Darfur.
This week, Clooney (and two others) penned a powerful op-ed in The New York Times that has put a spotlight back onto the troubled region. In it, they discuss the Gestapo-like tactics employed by the Sudanese government to keep journalists out of key areas, as well as some of the horrific sex crimes being perpetrated on those who have been forcibly removed from their homes.
In recent years, citizen journalists and human rights defenders from Darfur and the Nuba Mountains have smuggled out videos showing bombing raids and burning villages. Images captured by our Satellite Sentinel Project confirmed the systematic burning and barrel bombing of at least half a dozen villages in Darfur’s eastern Jebel Marra area last year.
To avoid scrutiny, the government has spent millions of dollars provided by Qatar to set up “model villages,” where it encourages Darfuris displaced by violence to settle. Human Rights Watch recently documented a chilling incident of mass rape at one of these villages, Tabit.
After collecting more than 130 witness and survivor testimonies over the phone, its researchers concluded that at least 221 women had been raped by soldiers of the Sudanese Army over a 36-hour period last October.
You can read the rest of the unsettling piece here.
Clooney and his co-authors are to be commended for their work here, but one important point must be made. Nowhere in the piece does it talk about the heart-and-soul of this conflict: a Muslim government hell-bent on eliminating Christian (and other non-Muslim) infidels. The term “non-Arab” is the closest The New York Times story can get to touching the unpleasant subject.
In other forums Clooney has underscored the religious persecution element. Clearly he has no problem emphasizing this dimension of the tragedy. So it is telling that such references have been discreetly excised from the paper that bills itself as offering up “all the news that’s fit to print.” Apparently on this go-around the fact of Muslims persecuting Christians in Darfur was deemed unfit for the Gray Lady.
This is unfortunate, but not surprising. The New York Times has a long history of ignoring, willfully distorting or simply bungling stories with an important religious dimension.
In the present case, it might be that the newspaper pushed for the religious dimension to be suppressed. Or it might be that the authors of the article, intent on generating as much support as possible for the persecuted Christians in Darfur, decided that the paper’s predominantly secular audience would sympathize less with persecuted Christians than with a persecuted ethnic minority.
The motives are unclear. What is clear is the absurdity of excising the religious element from a tragedy that is so palpably and centrally a story of religious persecution.