I’m happy whenever the media pays attention to stories in undercovered parts of the globe. So I’ve been celebrating the appearance of cartoons about Sudan. But the above cartoon by Sandy Huffaker gets the current situation in Darfur badly wrong.
While the civil war in Sudan has pitted Muslims of Arab descent from the north against Christians and animists of African descent from the south, that war has largely calmed down as a result of international peacemaking efforts. The conflict in Darfur is a Muslim on Muslim conflict, with muslims of Arab descent attacking their darker-skinned Muslim brothers. It is an age-old story, but probably not the one Huffaker thinks – it’s a conflict between farmers and herders, a conflict so old we find it in the Old Testament. It’s possible that Huffaker is referring to the larger historical situation in Sudan, but given current headlines, it seems more likely that he’s misunderstood the sides involved with the conflict.
There’s an unfortunate tendency in the US to associate Islam with violence and to assume that Muslims are somehow planning to destroy Christians and Christianity. It’s worth remembering that no religious or ethnic group has a monopoly on genocidal hatred. Reports from the Plateau State of Nigeria indicate that over 350 Muslims were killed by Christian militias in the latest attacks in a three-month religious conflict. The killers used machine guns and machetes, burned down houses, and looted buildings. Reuters reports that corpses showed signs of sexual abuse and mutilation.
Tragically, the real age-old story is the capacity for man’s inhumanity to man, not any one struggle between faiths or ethnicities.