Friday, December 30, 2005

Sudanese Killed in Cairo: Skin Color?

It's front page news (NYT, AP, etc) that Egyptian police today confronted Sudanese refugees who fled to Cairo to escape the civil war in Sudan. They made a make-shift camp in a Cairo park and squatted there for three months, according to reports. At least 23 Sudanese have now been killed, all of them unarmed, some children. It is true that the Egyptian economy is struggling and Cairo has its own problem with poverty, much of it severe. It's possible that additional poverty-stricken folk from another land could add to or break an economy already bending from indigenous matrices, including corruption. I also can see how public space in an over-populated country is important to defend, given the human need, for a healthy psychology, to see greenery and walk through aesthetically pleasing space. But the devil asks: If these were Bosnian refugees in Cairo, fair-skinned Europeans, would the reaction be the same? Given the near national obsession with skin hue in much of the Arab world, especially Egypt, would not the riot, then, be over Egyptian men seeking wives from the downtrodden damsels now on their soil? It would be bad poetry not bullets aimed toward the crowd. I'm not the only one entertaining such questions. It's hard to find a people more taxed by the trials of civil war and political play than the Sudanese. Again, the dynamics of the situation are not fully covered by the "press," whether controlled or free. But we know enough to still wonder.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the most pleasant people i have ever met are Sudanese.

Maybe they were killed in envy. You know how so many Arabs can't stand to see happiness in others.

12/30/2005 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AbuSharif ... As Salaam Alaikum, There is so much unwarranted violence on this orb I am inclined to think this is either a penal planet or purgatory; a station of cleansing before transition, if one is so blessed, to an evolution yet unrealized. Since white hates black so unfailingly I am almost inclined to believe the opposite of everything I am lent to believe in regard to there being just one humanity on this orb. I would question, why has there never been an exposition as to "Why" the hatred or fear of people of color, by those whom hate or fear them? The Sudanese are the latest of a genocidal regime by so called "white" peoples against any race of color. Let us not forget the Native Peoples of the America's. Why?

12/31/2005 8:45 PM  
Blogger Eiman Abdelmoneim said...

My parents just came back from Egypt where they live for most of the year. Regarding these Sudanese people, they mentioned how they have seen with their own eyes these refugees.

For those familiar with Egypt, they had setup camp in the (relatively speaking) upscale Cairo neighborhood of Mohandeseen. The main reason they stayed there was because the UN office is located there. According to the word on the Egyptian street, these refugees were demanding asylum to countries like the US and Canada. They were unwilling to move out of fear that the UN would ignore their pleas if they weren't in front of the UN workers' faces every morning essentially forcing them to walk through, see, and smell the garbage and filth resulting from this makeshift refugee camp.

1/01/2006 11:17 PM  
Blogger fromclay said...

Eiman, I can imagine the difficulty of having a make-shift camp in the middle of town . . . the whole "in your face" trauma. But the question still stands: Whether or not race and skin hue had something to do with the *violence* that resulted in the deaths of two dozen people, many children and women. My gut (and plenty of other guts galore) wonder if the reaction would have been so severe and deadly had the campers been of a "fairer" race. I, for one, doubt it. And besides, since when is bad odor a capital crime?


1/02/2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Abuljude said...

Come now, guys. Don't tell me that in your travels to the Arab world you have never heard blacks referred to as "Abeed" - slaves.

Having a toe in both pools, I can tell you that the sense of superiority over blacks as a group that most Arabs (including my relatives) feel is akin to that which most Americans feel around Mexicans. The darker the skin tone, the deeper the stereotype - uneducated, dirty, smelly - around the world.

I have heard that the pressing reason for the Egyptians to clear the park was that it is used for overflow prayers on Eid, which is coming up next week. The New York Times today states that the Egyptians have dumped the survivors on the street elsewhere, with no money or belongings; they quote fathers who lost children as young as nine months old to the truncheons of the police. How can you pray somewhere where they killed kids to clear your path?

1/02/2006 5:30 PM  
Blogger Eiman Abdelmoneim said...

My post wasn't intended to be an apologetic defense of the brutality. Nor was it meant to be in direct response to your fundamental question of race. I was just trying to give a firsthand account.

I concur that the arab world (like the rest of the world for that matter) has an issue with race. No doubt that Egyptians in Mohandeseen either consciously or subconsciously saw the refugees in this light (or dark - excuse the pun). Egypt is no different than other places in the developing world where "white is beautiful".

I'm not convinced that the degree of brutality however was directly a function of implicit/explicit racism. The Egyptian government has shown on numerous occasions (the latest parliamentary elections the most recent) that any entity/person/group that threatens those in power or seeks to embarass them will be dealt with very harshly. Didn't matter how brown one's skin was.

I am more inclined to believe that the overriding factor had more to do with the nationality of these people. If these were a group of African Americans or Africans with French nationality, just as dark skinned, the egyptians would never have conducted themselves in this way. Knowing that these were Sudanese refugees, by definition with no nation backing them, made these people vulnerable. As anybody who has traveled to the Arab world can attest, the passport one holds defines the level of "humanity" one deserves.

1/02/2006 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wordy discourse without true explanation of the subject at hand. It is an abomniable act of brutalality, irregardless of skin color, but the enormity of the sheer disregard for human life seems to lessen as one's skin color deepens. I for one distrust all white folk and surely I live in an alternate universe.

1/03/2006 8:59 PM  

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