Date: Feature Week of
AFRICAN AMERICAN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS:
OPPOSITE VIEWS ON SITUATION IN SUDAN
A major schism is developing between Muslim and Christian African Americans and politicians over the situation in Africa’s largest country: Sudan. Many Christian African American leaders and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members blame the Sudanese government as being responsible for the humanitarian disaster that has engulfed Sudan’s Western Darfur province for the past year and a half. And, they want to impose economic sanctions against leaders of the Sudan government and advocate military intervention there if those leaders fail to stop the crisis.
Black Muslims maintain that the crisis in Sudan is based on a decades-long war and that “constructive engagement” with the Sudanese is the means through which African Americans can gain an economic foothold with Sudan and its vast mineral resources. They say that the current crisis in Darfur is the result of active intervention from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA), the South Sudanese rebel group - and its leader John Garang – has throughout the decades-long South Sudan conflict worked for Anglo-American geo-political interests. They say the crisis in Darfur was not due to a spontaneous uprising of one population group against the injustices of the government, or of Africans against Arabs, as claimed by most mainstream media; the military operation of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army rebels in February 2003 was already planned a year earlier; and is part of the broader strategy of the Anglo-American backers of Garang and the SPLA.
Islam is the fastest growing religion among African Americans. Black Muslims are growing and increasing their visibility, particularly in the urban centers. There are as many as 7 million Muslims in the US and with African Americans accounting for 30 percent of that number. African Americans who have converted to Islam believe it represents a return to cultural roots pre-slavery, a culture of self-respect and independence. They say Islam is a religion of social justice and this speaks to blacks, whose life’s experiences have often been marked by injustice.
In the early 1930s, Fard Mohammed founded the Nation of Islam (NOI), but the organization had its expansion under the leadership of Elijah Mohammed. Today, it is led by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Many blacks joined the NOI because of its self-help approach to inner-city problems. It was the NOI that Malcolm X first joined but later left to enter mainstream Sunni Islam, just as did Warith Mohammed, son of Elijah Mohammed. The Nation of Islam and Warith Mohammed have been the major gateways for African Americans into orthodox Sunni Islam. The African American Muslim groups claim more than 100,000 paying members and millions more as sympathizers.
The majority of Muslims in the US are in New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Michigan. Sizable concentrations are also found around the national capital area in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. According to the American Muslim Council, a Washington lobbying group, there are close to 2,000 mosques and Islamic community centers in the US. Most Muslims are highly educated and have close and intact family structures. From this they derive an increasing sense of confidence. African American Muslims are trying to retain their core conservative values and concerns while swimming amongst the American mainstream.
The threat of terrorism has brought about major divisions between the world’s Christians and Muslims. The predominant religion in North America is Christianity, but Islam appears destined to become a particularly visible and active component of African American society. The two African American groups need to resolve their issues, particularly when their differences play directly into the “divide and conquer” techniques Western powers have thrived on for centuries.
When it comes to American foreign policy, shouldn’t black Christians and Muslims be in tandem against racist Western Establishment powers’ biases and actions that have affected each? In the eyes of Muslims, the crisis in Darfur again confirms the cynical nature of the West’s Africa politics. For decades, global financial institutions, led by the IMF and World Bank blocked development for Sudan, Chad and other countries in the region. Therefore, social and political conflicts became unavoidable. These conflicts were heated by a steady flow of weapons from guess who? The answer: Western powers. Isn’t it time, that this time, African American Christian and Muslims will question Western powers’ media and legislatures’ movement to define Africa’s conflicts as ethnic or religious? Question two is: based on the historical record of Western powers, why wouldn’t they manipulate the situation in Sudan, and the region, for their own geopolitical purposes and supplies of oil under the ground there? And, question three: why would blacks ever advocate Western military activities inside an African country?
© 2000-2004 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com