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Racism is a phenomenon that exists all over the world, and there are some countries that are trying to eradicate it through the imposition of severe penalties. Many minorities have been subjected to persecution in our region because they differ from the majority, including the Shiites, Alawites, Armenians, Assyrians, Bahais, Berbers, Copts, Ismailis, Kurds, Sahrawis, Turkmen, Yazidis, Nubians and the list goes on other than the Christian denominations, homosexuals and others. Likewise, Sunnis are also subjected to persecution in Shiite-majority societies, for example.
Mona Eltahawy, a columnist for Egypt’s Al Masry Al Youm and Qatar’s Al Arab, wrote in the New York Times an article under the title, ‘Racism: The Arab world’s dirty secret’. She stated that she has witnessed racist attacks by Egyptian Arabs on black Africans, a majority of whom were from the ‘brotherly’ Sudan. She said the shameful racist Darfur war had for years not received any attention from the Arab world.
She said these Arab racists themselves almost cry when they hear about “Islamophobia” in the West, and how Muslim minorities are subjected to mistreatment and racism in these Western countries.
Racism also witnessed its best manifestations in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, where its practice centered on isolating and repressing those of Iranian or Kurdistan origin.
The Human Rights Watch, the human rights organization of the world, issued a statement condemning the refusal of some Arab countries to describe the Mauritanian government as racist, which severely discriminated between its citizens on the basis of race.
As for the successive Sudanese governments, perhaps with the exception of the current one, they have always practiced repression, displacement and discrimination in various fields against all non-Arab and non-Muslim minorities.
In Tunisia, there is a practice against black Africans, and the same thing is found more strongly in Libya. Black Africans and Berbers in Morocco are also treated very badly by the Arab majority.
Tunisian novelist Kamal Riahi says: ‘It may surprise you to learn that Negro was and still is a term that Tunisians use for blacks in my country. I consider myself a person of Negro origin, though I am not black, but sympathetic towards blacks in all respects; especially in terms of thought, heritage and history.
‘We the white people will not be liberated until we free ourselves from the racist opinions nesting in our brains, which are based on hatred for other races and followers of other religions. In Arab countries, we still curse each other using phrases such as ‘You are a Jew’ or ‘You are a Kurd’, and this is serious racial and religious discrimination’.
In Tunisia, we are making fun of the Libyans, and there are jokes that make fun of the Homs in Syria, and perhaps the opposite is true. We Arabs try to hide all this or remain silent about this bitter reality, even though this issue is important, and it turns out that our societies are sick, and suffer from the complex of color, race, gender and origin.
In the Gulf countries, we find racism against the ‘immigrant’’ even if he/she was a resident for dozens of years and was born there, compared to what we find in Western countries where a resident can obtain citizenship and enjoy all the rights of citizenship after a number of years unlike our countries.
By Ahmad alsarraf