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Darfur question… and wider Sufi ripples

[ by Charles Cameron — request for info, Darfur, Janjaweed, Sufis, Senegal and more ]



Dr John Esposito has a post up at HuffPo disputing Ayan Hirsi Ali‘s recent Newsweek piece, and one very small matter of phrasing raised a small cluster of questions for me …


My Questions:

Dr Esposito quotes Hirsi Ali as saying “What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities” and comments, “to say that Darfur is an example of the Muslim-Christian genocide is flat out wrong”.

My questions are not about Ali’s “Global War on Christians” or “Muslim-Christian genocide” but about the range of Muslim theological interests at play in the Darfur conflict.

Julie Flint, in Sudan, Darfur destroyed: ethnic cleansing by government and militia forces in Western Sudan, writes that “Almost all Darfurians belong to the Tijaniya sect of Sufi Islam that extends from Senegal to Sudan.”

And Robert Spencer writes that “Salafists target Muslims they regard as insufficiently Islamic also in Darfur, where Arab Muslims attack non-Arab Muslims whose Islam is closer to the cultural version that prevailed in Somalia than to Wahhabi austerity.”


Is Spencer right about that? And is it therefore arguable that in additional to nomadic vs sedentary and Arab vs black African issues, there’s a sectarian (intra-Muslim) component to the conflict?

Further, is Darfur (inter alia) a front we should be monitoring in terms of a global Salafi vs Sufi struggle?

Who and what should I be following / reading?


All of which brings me to the wider issue of violence against Sufis (and for that matter, violent as well as peaceable Sufi responses) in (eg) Libya (Daveed GR today), the Punjab (Raza Rumi) and of course Senegal (see image of mosque in Touba above)…

All pointers welcome.

2 Responses to “Darfur question… and wider Sufi ripples”

  1. Larry Dunbar Says:

    Much of the problem comes from the fact that a Bedouin has to defend and act as to war a piece of land not under his physical control. This give 9/10 to the enemy, which is a huge disadvantage to begin with, and may lead to genocide, in the attempt of an orientation to isolate a piece of their environment, towards some kind of advantage.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    A sidelight that may be only of interest to myself —
    I originally posted the bulk of the above post in the comment section below Dr Esposito’s article. I did this very early — I believe there were only two comments up before I posted mine — waited and waited, and eventually sent HuffPo a note asking what had happened to my comment, got no reply, and decided to post the slightly longer version here instead.
    I wrote it specifically for posting there, because I hoped it might engage Dr Esposito in dialog.
    Eventually one of the HuffPo moderators saw my note of inquiry, and I just now received his response, which included this by way of explanation:

    I reviewed your comment and published it.

    It appears that because of its length, complexity and topic that it was misunderstood and deleted.

    Its length, complexity and topic, eh? Anyway, it can now be found somewhere in the second “comments” page of three, along with almost 150 other comments — mostly sniping back and forth at Esposito and Hirsi Ali — where in my view only a masochist would find it, unless they had this link
    The moderators note was perfectly polite, and I appreciate his taking the time to investigate and reinstate my comment. But this whole business causes me to reflect on how much I appreciate the warmth, intelligence and insight that I almost always find in the comments at Zenpundit. 
    Here we have conversations: all too often elsewhere, rival gangs taunt each other. As someone who is interested in tracking the undercurrents of emotion swirling around some highly charged issues, that often interests me — but it saddens and frustrates me too, and makes me appreciate all the more the sanity and friendship that I find here

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