All told, one million Muslims were murdered by fellow Muslims in an orgy of hate that defied the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, whose religious authority was being invoked by the Pakistan army.
One would have hoped that this genocide would have served as a cautionary tale. But the sad fact is that racism in the Islamic world has remained ubiquitous in the years that followed. Yet there is near universal denial about it, not just among the governments of Muslim nations, but also among many NGOs and civil society groups.
In Sudan, the Arab janjaweed militia and the Arab government in Khartoum have caused the murder of 500,000 Darfuri Muslims whose only fault is that they are black and thus considered inferior to the ruling classes of that country.
The mistreatment of black Muslims by those who feel they are superior because of their lighter skin colour has gone on throughout history. Only in the Middle East can one get away with addressing a black man as Ya Abdi, which translates as “Oh you slave.”
Only the Arab League would choose to embrace Sudan’s President, a man charged by the International Criminal Court for his murderous campaign in Darfur.
It is time that the medieval belief in the inferiority of non-Arab Muslims to Arab Muslims is laid to rest. Arab countries and leaders of Arab NGOs must denounce this doctrine, which has led to discrimination against darker-skinned Muslims by Arab governments in countries as far apart as Dubai and Darfur.
If we cannot allow a woman to speak here because she is of mixed blood, then all I can say is that in the words of Robert Frost, we have miles to go before we sleep. – Tarek Fatah is the author of the recent book Chasing Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State.