- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 17, 2001

Persecution in Sudan continues

Sudanese Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed's plaintive letter rings hollow for those of us who count among our friends Sudanese whose lives have been devastated by the war that the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime is waging against them ("Sudan is simply misunderstood," Letters, Nov. 5).
Mr. Khidir accuses Commentary columnist Cal Thomas of including inaccurate information about Sudan in his interview with the Right Rev. Bullen Dolli, Episcopal bishop of Lui in southern Sudan ("Skeptical of the peaceful label," Oct. 24). But the witness of Sudanese Christians starved, scarred and faithful in a ruinous landscape of smoldering villages and charred cattle speaks far more eloquently about the accuracy of Mr. Thomas' report.
Bishop Dolli's statement that "many Christian church buildings have [been] bulldozed or bombed from the air" goes unchallenged by Mr. Khidir. Bulldozing is done mostly in the outskirts of Khartoum, where those who have had to flee from their homes in southern Sudan live in miserable conditions. The bulldozing includes the flattening of any sort of makeshift church, school or other type of shelter by government forces.
The NIF saves the bombs for southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Bishop Dolli's cathedral was bombed on Dec. 29. Other churches, schools, hospitals, relief centers and marketplaces have suffered in the same way. Recently, the NIF has been bombing to disrupt the delivery of food to starving Sudanese. On Oct. 9, the regime bombed the United Nations' World Food Program, forcing the United Nations to evacuate from areas of northern Bahr al Ghazal. The regime requires that U.N. aid flights notify it when and where food will be delivered (and U.N. compliance makes bombing a lot more simple). Those assembled at the airstrip to receive the food drops got regime shrapnel bombs instead. On Nov. 11, government of Sudan military forces used artillery to attack relief planes that were arriving in the Nuba Mountains as part of a food-drop operation.
"We want a Sudan that is inclusive and respectful of the rights of all of its citizens, whether from the north or south, whether Muslim, Christian, or practicing traditional African religions," the Sudanese ambassador protests. But where is the inclusivity and respect for Sudanese such as my friend Francis, a tall, slender, beautiful, black, young Dinka? During his 10 years as a slave, he was called "abid" (the Arabic word that means "black" and "slave" simultaneously), beaten, and given food and living quarters not fit for an animal.
Francis was taken by the murahileen, the government-sponsored militia, when it raided his village marketplace when he was 7 years old. You might say that Francis was lucky. At least he didn't have his head blown off, like one little girl who wouldn't stop crying for her parents, or his foot cut off, like the little sister of the murdered girl.
Francis escaped from his master, Giema Abdullah, in 1996, but hundreds of other southern Sudanese are enslaved. In the past four weeks, militias captured 198 women and children in two raids in northern Bahr al Ghazal.
According to former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadiq Al Mahdi, the Khartoum regime considers black non-Muslims who resist the enforced Arabization and Islamization as outlaws, and they may be killed, enslaved or otherwise terrorized in the process of jihad.
In an open letter to Mary Robinson, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, he said, "It is true that the regime has not enacted a law to realize slavery in Sudan. But the traditional concept of jihad does allow slavery as a byproduct [of jihad]."
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel wrote of the Holocaust: "The enemy was counting on the fact that in pushing violence and cruelty and sadism and brutality and evil to its grotesque limits that we the victims would be incapable of telling the tale. The enemy counted on the disbelief of the world and the victim."
Slavery, genocide, deliberate starvation, ethnic cleansing and other acts of terrorism for the sake of imposing one religious/political/cultural belief system on a diverse people sounds unbelievable to our society, in which multiculturalism and religious pluralism reign supreme. After September 11, however, we should be able to believe anything.

Coordinator, Church Alliance for a New Sudan
International religious liberty associate
Institute on Religion and Democracy

Aid to Pakistan should be used to prevent breeding of terrorists

Arnaud de Borchgrave's Nov. 15 Commentary column, "Tense dilemma in Islamabad," is timely and makes a penetrating analysis of the Afghanistan quagmire. It is surprising that some observers seem to object to the quick victory achieved so far by the United States in collaboration with the Northern Alliance. They wish that it did not happen this far ahead of political progress in Afghanistan, which is moving at a glacial pace.
Pakistan, the major supporter of the Taliban until September 11, and its lobbyists are trying their best to discredit the Northern Alliance for their past failures. These pale in significance, however, compared to the tyranny that the Taliban unleashed upon Afghanistan with the help of Arab and Pakistani jihadis.
The Taliban's reign of terror has been comprehensively documented by the respected Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid in his book "Taliban." The thorough routing and annihilation of the Taliban and all foreign Islamic militants should be a matter of jubilation to all those who oppose terrorism.
In Pakistan, however, vociferous extremist elements in the madrassas and the military are upset by these positive developments. A considerable percentage of terrorist activity in the world originates from Pakistan's notorious madrassas, where children are taught to hate America and the West. It is essential that there is some oversight of the U.S. government's $600 million gift to Pakistan, so that these funds are channeled into economic development and reform of the school system.
Failure to do so could very well result in diversion of the funds to terrorist elements in Pakistan.

Irvington, N.Y.

Michigan students not ordered to remove patriotic posters and flags

Commentary columnist Paul Craig Roberts' accusation that students at Central Michigan University were "ordered" to remove patriotic posters and the U.S. flag from their residence hall doors because they were "offensive" is completely false ("Penalties borne by rush of patriotism," Nov. 8). It never happened. The university has never ordered or asked students to remove flags or patriotic expressions from their doors.
The university believes strongly in the free-speech rights of all persons, including students living in the residence halls. Our review has made clear that no university staff member required or demanded that residents remove anything from their residence hall doors. Neither has any university staff member removed anything from a student's room door.
Our review did find that residence hall staff requested, but did not require, that vulgar pictures be removed from two doors. The pictures were considered by many to be derogatory and obscene, including an illustration of Lady Liberty with her middle finger extended saying an obscenity. The U.S. flag was never part of this request. The university has no policy that forbids or discourages the display of the U.S. flag or other patriotic expressions.
On a personal note, I value everything that the U.S. flag stands for. Every single day, the university proudly flies the American flag in front of its administration building, and the flag is displayed in most campus buildings. As a U.S. citizen, I treasure the freedoms that are inherently symbolized in the U.S. flag, including the right to free speech. To request its removal from any place on our campus would violate my personal standards and values.
Our administration welcomes the opportunity to talk with anyone who has concerns about freedom of expression at Central Michigan University. The school is a defender both in its words and in its actions of its students' First Amendment rights and will continue to uphold these values.

Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Mich.

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