The Darfur Conspiracy Revisited
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
In “The Darfur Conspiracy,” this column on October 19 addressed conspiracies from the Arab and Iranian press about the genocide in Sudan. Such press outlets claimed that the violence resulted from American attempts to control Sudanese oil, plans to create a Christian state in Sudan, and Jews trying to annex the African country to Israel.
“Look for the Zionists behind every disaster. We have found their fingers in Darfur,” one of the most influential Islamists, Sheik Yosef Al-Qaradawi, said in an interview with a Qatar daily, Al-Sharq, on September 10, 2004. Similarly, before the last American presidential election, Sudan’s ambassador in Tehran told Iran Daily, “The Zionists and rightist Christians are fanning rumors against Sudan.”
The last six months have seen countless efforts by the West to stop the genocide in Darfur, including activity at the United Nations, rallies in Western capitals, and numerous newspaper and television programs devoted to the killings. April 30’s Save Darfur rally on the National Mall boasted politicians, celebrities, religious leaders, human rights activists, and Darfur refugees, united in their call for action.
Meanwhile, many in the Arab and Muslim world, including Al Qaeda, Iran’s state-controlled press, and mainstream Arab and Muslim American leaders, continued to embrace conspiracy theories surrounding Darfur.
In a May 8 column titled “Why I Spoke at the Darfur Rally,” the president of the Arab American Institute, James Zogby, said his decision to participate was “complicated” due to “the make up of the U.S.-based movement” that sponsored the event.
“It is a fact that a number of Evangelical Christian organizations who had been engaged in controversial missionary/conversion efforts in Darfur were involved, as were some Jewish groups who had a history of using Sudan as an issue to drive a wedge between Arabs and Africans,” Mr. Zogby said.
In a May 16 article titled “Condemning Zionism Is Crucial to World Peace, and Essential to Peace in the Muslim and Arab World,” a board member of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Anisa Abdel Fattah, wrote about “possible attempts [by Zionists] to expand into Sudan through Darfur.”
A New Jersey-based Arabic Web site, Free Arab Voice, www.freearabvoice.org, published by and for Arab-Americans, recently posted an article by Abu Iskandar as-Sudani on its homepage. The article originally appeared in the May 2005 edition of a Palestinian Arab magazine, Al-Hadaf, and was devoted to Darfur. The author wrote that the claims of genocide were invented by the Western press, and discussed “the unfolding Zio-American plan to break up the Arab states along the lines of the strategy for a Greater Middle East.” He concluded by saying this strategy “would give the American Administration and Israel control of [Darfur’s] agricultural, petroleum and mineral resources of the country and facilitate their plunder of its uranium deposits.” Free Arab Voice links to terrorist Web sites such as those of Hezbollah and Hamas.
Osama bin Laden’s April 23 audiotape also claimed there was an American-led, Zionist-crusader conspiracy to separate southern Sudan and called on his mujahedeen in Sudan to be prepared for a long war against the crusaders.
A May 24 Islamic Republic News Agency article titled “Zionist Regime Uses ‘Darfur Crisis’ as Distraction” reported: “The powerful American Jewish lobby which tightly controls the American Congress” was behind “a high-profile propaganda campaign” about Darfur.
The communications director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Tarek Fatah, wrote an article on May 10 titled “Why Are We Muslims So Silent on Darfur?” that appeared on the Web site of ArabAmericanNews.com and could be considered a response to the likes of Mr. Zogby and Ms. Fattah. In addition to discussing a Canadian rally to stop the genocide in Darfur, he was highly critical of Muslims for saying “the Jews have somehow stolen the issue of Darfur’s genocide by actively campaigning against it.”
“It is nonsense to suggest that the death, destruction, and all the suffering of the Darfurian people is imaginary or that Zionists are using it as propaganda … To suggest that this is some sort of a U.S.-Israel conspiracy is ludicrous and insane,” Mr. Fatah quoted El-Fadl El-Sharief, the Muslim Sudanese who organized the rally in Canada, as saying.
For information on how to help, go to www.savedarfur.org.
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.