Racism in the Arab world

From Deep web, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Racism in the Arab world covers an array of forms of intolerance against non-Arabs and the expat majority of the Gulf countries coming from (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh) groups as well as Black, Hispanic and Asian groups that are Muslim; minorities such as Armenians, Africans, Latin Americans, Southeast Asians, Jews, Kurds, Assyrians, and Coptic Christians, Persians and other Iranic peoples, Turks, and South Asians in Arab countries of the Middle East.

The previously forbidden topics of race and racism in the Arab world have been explored more since the rise of foreign, private and independent media. In one example, Al-Jazeera's critical coverage of the Darfur crisis led to the arrest and conviction of its Khartoum bureau chief.[1]

Racist attitudes[edit]

The Guardian’s journalist, Brian Whitaker, wrote on the race taboo in the Arab World; an excerpt:[2]

Racism is a worldwide phenomenon. In some countries it's met with disapproval, in others with denial. The A to Z of ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East embraces Alawites, Armenians, Assyrians, Baha'is, Berbers, Copts, Druzes, Ibadis, Ismailis, Jews, Kurds, Maronites, Sahrawis, Tuareq, Turkmens, Yazidis and Zaidis and Nubians (by no means an exhaustive list), and yet serious discussion of ethnic/religious diversity and its place in society is a long-standing taboo. If the existence of non-Arab or non-Muslim groups is acknowledged at all, it is usually only to declare how wonderfully everyone gets along.

Mona Eltahawy, a columnist for Egypt's Al Masry Al Youm and Qatar's Al Arab, wrote in the New York Times an article titled, "Racism: The Arab world's dirty secret". She was a witness to racist attacks by Arab Egyptians on blacks and stated: "We are a racist people in Egypt and we are in deep denial about it. On my Facebook page, I blamed racism for my argument and an Egyptian man wrote to deny that we are racists and used as his proof a program on Egyptian Radio featuring Sudanese songs and poetry! Our silence over racism not only destroys the warmth and hospitality we are proud of as Egyptians, it has deadly consequences." She believed racism was behind a police crackdown on 5,000 Sudanese refugees and the beating to death of some women and children. She added: "The racism I saw on the Cairo Metro has an echo in the Arab world at large, where the suffering in Darfur goes ignored because its victims are black and because those who are creating the misery in Darfur are not Americans or Israelis and we only pay attention when America and Israel behave badly." She criticized the country's attitudes: "We love to cry 'Islamophobia' when we talk about the way Muslim minorities are treated in the West and yet we never stop to consider how we treat minorities and the most vulnerable among us." While noting that racist incidents are condemned in the United States, she said that in Egypt, as well as in the Arab world, there is a culture of silence toward racist incidents which reflects negatively on Arab society.[3]

In the Arab Gulf states, Sudanese, who consider themselves Arabs, are labelled as abeed, literally meaning slaves, or as fusduq al-abeed ("slave's peanuts"), referring to Sudan's production of peanuts.[4]

Accusations against specific Arab governments[edit]


In Ba'athist Iraq, especially during the Iran–Iraq War, Iran was presented as the age-old enemy of the Arabs. The Iraqi Ba'athists, according to Fred Halliday, brought the ideas of Sati al-Husri to their full, official and racist, culmination.[citation needed] For the Ba'athists, their pan-Arab ideology was laced with anti-Iranian racism, it rested on the pursuit of anti-Iranian themes, over the decade and a half after coming to power, Baghdad organised the expulsion of Iraqis of Iranian origin, beginning with 40,000 Fayli Kurds, but totaling up to 200,000 or more, by the early years of the war itself. Such racist policies were reinforced by ideology: in 1981, a year after the start of the Iran–Iraq War, Dar al-Hurriya, the government publishing house,[citation needed] issued Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies by the author, Khairallah Talfah, the foster-father and father-in-law of Saddam Hussein. Halliday says that it was the Ba'athists too who, claiming to be the defenders of 'Arabism' on the eastern frontiers, brought to the fore the chauvinist myth of Iranian migrants and communities in the Persian Gulf region.[5]


According to Holly Burkhalter of Human Rights Watch, in a statement made in testimony before the Congress of the United States, "It is fair to say that the Mauritanian government practices undeclared apartheid and severely discriminates on the basis of race."[6]


Beginning in 1991, elders of the Zaghawa people of Sudan complained that they were victims of an intensifying Arab apartheid campaign.[7] Vukoni Lupa Lasaga has accused the Sudanese government of "deftly manipulat(ing) Arab solidarity" to carry out policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs in Darfur.[8] Alan Dershowitz has pointed to Sudan as an example of a government that deserves the appellation "apartheid",[9] and former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler has also criticized Sudan in similar terms.[10]


Dark-skinned Egyptian President Anwar Sadat faced insults of not looking "Egyptian enough" and "Nasser's black poodle".[11] An Egyptian Nubian soccer player Mahmoud Abdel Razek stopped playing football due to racist slurs by rival Egyptian fans during a game.[12]

According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Black African immigrants to Egypt often face physical violence and verbal abuse at the hands of the general public and law enforcement officials. Refugees from Sudan are especially targeted, with racial slurs like "oonga boonga" and "samara" (meaning "black") constituting the most typical insults. The EIPR attributes the violence and abuse to both a lack of government efforts at disseminating information, raising awareness and dispelling myths with regard to the economic contributions made by the newcomers, and stereotyping on the part of the Egyptian media.[13] Black women are also targets of sexual harassment.[11] As a remedy, the EIPR recommends that the Egyptian government "should intensify and accelerate efforts to combat racist xenophobic views towards migrant workers, especially those of Black African origin, and to promote awareness of their positive contribution to society. The government should train all personnel working in the field of criminal justice and law enforcement officials in the spirit of respect for human rights and non-discrimination on ethnic or racial grounds."[13]


In March 2011, officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed allegations of discrimination by Tunisia against black Africans.[14] Black Africans were reportedly targeted by rebel forces during the Libyan civil war in 2011.[15][16][17]


Author draws parallel between Arab nationalism and Turkish nationalism, both were "likewise evolving into the "racial" stage, the ideal being a great "Pan-Arab" empire, embracing not merely the ethnically Arab peninsula-homeland, but also the Arabized regions of Mesopotamia, The Levant, Egypt, Tripoli, North Africa and the Sudan."[18]

Christians of Iraq site published an extensive historic account on "the Foolishness of imposing Oppressive Arab Nationalism on Non Arabs, Non-Arab Muslim minorities such as the Imazighen or Berbers, Kurds, and Turkmen found themselves officially out of favor. They faced the prospect of becoming 'Arabized' or of being denied political and even civil rights. Groups that identified themselves as neither Arab nor Muslim had it even worse. Maronites, whose retention of political power in Lebanon immunized them from utter marginalization, watched with alarm as Arab nationalist propaganda increasingly portrayed them as a foreign and sinister element in the heart of the Arab nation."[19]

Dr. Walid Phares writes about Arabism's denial of identity of millions of indigenous non-Arab nations as an ethnic cleansing on a politico-cultural level.[20]

A writer on the Durban conference regarding racism suggests: That stressing out that "Arabism is racism" would have been an interesting debating topic. Yet, he adds that "the OIC countries were very clever in how they deflected the slavery issue that could so easily have been turned on them with a vengeance."[21]

Some Muslim activists have also expressed that "Arabism is racism, pure and simple."[22] There was Sheikh Mustafa al-Maraghi, who in a famous 1938 essay dismissed the goal of [pan] Arab unity as racist.[23]

Arab Muslim authors in "Arab-Iranian relations":

Much ink has flowed on the issue of Arab nationalism. Some people believe it to be a racist movement, advocating the superiority of the Arabs.[24]

A Muslim scholar writes that "the Ba'th party, which sowed a Pan-Arabist ideology, was responsible for the genocide of Kurdish people in Iraq as well as the genocide of Shiite Arabs in Iraq, and that "Pan-Arabism does not recognize minorities living in the Arab world. Everybody in this "world" is an Arab."[25]

Ali A. Allawi, the former Iraqi Minister of Defense and Finance, envisioning a peaceful Iraq: "Arabism, racism and sectarianism – would be dethroned. Iraq would be at peace with itself and with its region."[26]

In 1960's, the French Comite d' Action de Defense De- mocratique published a pamphlet titled Racism and Pan-Arabism, its introduction followed by an article by the well known French sociologist, anthropologist & political leader: Jackes Soustelle to fight against all kinds of racism, this was followed by a paper by Shlomo Friedrich on "Pan-Arabism: A New Racist Menace?" who offered a sharp critique of Nasser's book The Philosophy of the Revolution, and it terms it a mere pale imitation of Hitler's Mein Kampf.[27]

The African Liberation Forces of Mauritania speaking on slavery and genocide in the Sahel, said "those two governments [Sudan and Mauritania] went to the same school—the school of Arabization. The professor was Saddam Hussein, and the doctrine was developed in Egypt by Nasser. They follow the pattern of Ba'athism and Nasserism. In the color of their skin they may not be Arabs, they may be Black. But they want to be Arab, and they follow this policy of Arabization in Mauritania and Sudan."[28]

Racism – overview[edit]

In an interview 'White Skin, Black Mask' the Tunisian-born, Algerian author Kamel Riahi explained: "It might come as a surprise to you to learn that Negro was the term people called my black grandfather. I consider myself as someone of a Negro descent, although I am not black. Perhaps my wide nose proves this theory. Therefore, I am sympathetic towards the blacks ideologically, by heritage and by history. We, the whites, will not be liberated until we liberate ourselves from the racist views we have of other races and religions." He goes on in denouncing the massive common racism in the Arab world:

We still curse each other using "you’re Jewish" or "you’re Kurdish", this is also racial and religious discrimination. Watch any Egyptian sitcom and tell me about the image of the Sudanese character. Listen to the Tunisian jokes about the Libyans or jokes about people from Hums in Greater Syria. Listen to the debates regarding noble families and family lineage… even horses now are divided between what is considered "noble" and what is not. We are racists to the bones. Attempting to hide or silence this fact will not help with the matter because we are a sick society which still suffers from the complexes of color and race.[29]

Some charge that "ultra-Arabism and Jihadism have been responsible for widespread persecution and genocide." such Saddam's using chemical weapons and gas against the Kurds during the bombings of Halabja in northern Iraq. "The Kurds, a non-Arab people whose language belongs to the Iranian group, have suffered from persecution under the Baath of Iraq and Syria, especially since the departure of British and French forces in the late 1940s." (Kurds are also claiming rights in Iran and Turkey.) The Berbers, the pre-Arab native peoples of have been victomized by the Arabs in North Africa.[30]

Kurds decried 'Arab racism' against them,[31] and have branded "The Arab League as a useless ideological racist Arabist institution."[32]

There're historic racial divisions,[33] racial and religious prejudices in Iraq, including on Kurds, on Shia and the Marsh Arabs.[34]

Author Bat Yeor charges bigotry in the Arab Muslim middle east, including "the oppression of the Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq, the discrimination against non-Muslims and women enforced by shari'a rules in Arab countries, as well as anti-Israel and anti-Western Arab racism."[35]

Affected victims[edit]

In Sudan, including the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions, from 1955 to 2005, it is estimated that nearly 4 million black people were killed or ethnically cleansed. During the Second Sudanese Civil War, about 2.5 million people were killed in attacks widely regarded as racially motivated against black indigenous Africans.[36]

Racism has been documented in Libya,[37] including the 2000 anti-African racist violence.[38] They have reported facing racism in the country, with one witness reporting being called a "slave" and "animal."[39][40] From the start of Libyan Civil War in 2011, blacks were massacred for their skin color according to an Amnesty International report.[41][42]

In Algeria victims of racism include Sub-Saharan immigrants who suffer daily from verbal attacks and other forms of discrimination. Many Sub-Saharan immigrants find themselves on the street due to lack of public resources. The homeless immigrants often quote the Quran in an effort to appeal to the country's Muslim unity and divert attention from their race.[43] On the world stage the country has declared that members of its national football team must undergo a stricter selection process if they possess dual citizenship to ensure their loyalty to the country.[44]

Some of the persecuted victims of racism and discrimination in the Arab world include: Sub-Saharan Africans in Egypt,[3] including on Eritreans,[45] and oppressing Darfurian refugees,[46] Algeria, Mauritania – fighting off racist policies in these countries,[47][48][49] in Iraq where blacks face racism,[50][51] Kurds in Syria and in Iraq,[52][53][54][55] Copts,[56] [57] it worsened under pan-Arabism by Nasser and with the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood.[58][59][60] Al-Akhdam in Yemen,[61] as well as slaves who fight the stigma of their status as 'slaves' in impoverished Yemen,[62] Persians' historic struggle against the 'Arab supremacy,'[63] Berbers in North Africa (Moroccos, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya ),[64][65][66][67][68] South Asians and Southeast Asians (maids in the Gulf Arab nations),[69][70][71][72] Jews (see: Antisemitism in the Arab world, in a 2009 PEW poll, 90% of the Middle East were found to view Jews unfavorably).[73] Although slavery was officially abolished in 1981, a 2012 CNN report suggested that 10% to 20% of the Mauritanian population was enslaved with a correlation with skin color – darker-skinned Mauritanians were often enslaved by lighter-skinned.[74]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Middle East report: Issues 234-235; Issues 237-241 , Middle East Research & Information Project, 2005, p. 54, p 32
  2. ^ Brian Whitaker: The existence of racist attitudes within some Arab countries is often denied, resulting in scandalous displays of prejudice against certain ethnic groups. Friday 8 September 2006, The Guardian[1]
  3. ^ a b Racism The Arab world's dirty secret, Mona Eltahawy, New York Times, December 10, 2008 [2]
  4. ^ Siri Lamoureaux (2011): "Message in a mobile", p. 59
  5. ^ Halliday 2000, pp. 117–118.
  6. ^ Yambo Ouologuem: postcolonial writer, Islamic militant, Christopher Wise, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999, p. 4.
  7. ^ Hilde F. Johnson, Waging Peace in Sudan: The Inside Story of the Negotiations That Ended, Trans Pacific Press, 2011, p. 38.
  8. ^ Vukoni Lupa Lasaga [3] Archived 2014-09-01 at the Wayback Machine "The slow, violent death of apartheid in Sudan," 19 September 2006, Norwegian Council for Africa.
  9. ^ Alan Dershowitz, The Case Against Israel's Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace, John Wiley and Sons, 2009, p. 24.
  10. ^ Hubert Bauch [4] "Ex-minister speaks out against Sudan's al-Bashir" Montreal Gazette, march 6, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Khalid, Sunni M. (February 7, 2011). "The Root: Race And Racism Divide Egypt". npr.org. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  12. ^ "Shikabala ends Egypt career over racist taunts". usatoday.com. Dec 31, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "III. Racist attitudes and Racially-Motivated Identity Checks and Detentions". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  14. ^ Saunders, Doug (1 March 2011). "At a Tense Border Crossing, a Systematic Effort To Keep Black Africans Out". The Globe and Mail. Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  15. ^ "UNHCR concerned as sub-Saharan Africans targeted in Libya". UNHCR. Geneva. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  16. ^ Sengupta, Kim (27 August 2011). "Rebels settle scores in Libyan capital". The Independent. Tripoli. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  17. ^ "Gadhafi Loyalists?". CNN. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  18. ^ The New World of Islam by Lothrop Stoddard, 2009, History, p. 201 [5], The Middle East, abstracts and index, Part 4 about "Jihadi Movements Worldwide: Abstracts & Documents", p. 1111, from Library Information and Research Service Published by Northumberland Press, 2004
  19. ^ "The Foolishness of imposing Oppressive Arab Nationalism on Non Arabs". Christiansofiraq.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  20. ^ "Arab Christians: An Introduction". Arabicbible.com. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  21. ^ Out of step: life-story of a politician : politics and religion in a world at war by Jack Brian Bloom, Indiana University, p. 112
  22. ^ Africa events, Volume 7, published by Dar es Salaam Ltd., 1991, p. 21
  23. ^ Radical Islam: medieval theology and ... - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  24. ^ Arab-Iranian relations By Khair el-Din Haseeb, K. Haseeb, Markaz Dirāsāt al-Waḥdah al-Arabīyah, Beirut, Lebanon, published by Centre for Arab Unity Studies, 1998, p. 368 [6]
  25. ^ "Arabs' Dream of Pan-Arabism". Amislam.com. 2007-10-07. Archived from the original on 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  26. ^ Ali A. Allawi, The occupation of Iraq: winning the war, losing the peace p. 438 [7]
  27. ^ The myth of the Jewish race - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  28. ^ "The African Liberation Forces of Mauritania Speak on Slavery and Genocide in the Sahel". Towardfreedom.com. 2006-10-17. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  29. ^ White skin black mask interview with Kamel Riahi [8] [9]
  30. ^ The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad, p. 109, by W. Phares, Macmillan, 2009. ISBN 0-230-61130-3, 978-0-230-61130-6 https://books.google.com/books?id=DTc2ACWFt18C&pg=PA109
  31. ^ Yawar, Referendum and Arab racism Oct 15, 2004, EKurd http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc/yawarreferendum.htm
  32. ^ Kurdish Media: News about Kurds and Kurdistan http://www.kurdmedia.com/article.aspx?id=9285
  33. ^ "NEWS SUMMARY". The New York Times. November 18, 1991.
  34. ^ John Burns Q and A: Ending the War in Iraq – NYTimes.com Sep 29, 2009 [10]
  35. ^ Eurabia: the Euro-Arab axis p. 104, Bat Ye'or, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 2005 ISBN 0-8386-4076-1, 978-0-8386-4076-0 [11]
  36. ^ "JewishPost.com - Remarkable Speech by Simon Deng, Once a Sudanese Slave, Addressing the Durban Conference in New York". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  37. ^ Brooke, James (June 5, 1988). "African Disputes Pit Arab Vs. Black". The New York Times.
  38. ^ "Libya: Dreamland of "One Africa" Betrayed". Theperspective.org. 2000-10-23. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  39. ^ Slackman, Michael (2009-03-22). "New Status in Africa Empowers an Ever-Eccentric Qaddafi". Libya;Africa: NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  40. ^ "UN Watch Turns Tables on Libyan Chair, Exposes Durban 2 Hypocrisy". Unwatch.org. Archived from the original on 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  41. ^ "In Tripoli, African 'mercenaries' at risk". Csmonitor.
  42. ^ "Amnesty finds widespread use of torture by Libyan militias". The Guardian.
  43. ^ Daoud, Kamel (2016-05-02). "Opinion | Black in Algeria? Then You'd Better Be Muslim". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  44. ^ "Video campaign tackles dual-national 'racism' in Algerian football". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  45. ^ "Egypt crackdown on African migrants hits Eritreans". Sudan Tribune.
  46. ^ "Egyptian troops execute another Darfur refugee". israel today. 2008-08-06. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  47. ^ The Journal of international studies, Volumes 30-31 By Sophia University. Institute of International Relations p. 31
  48. ^ Africa insight, Volumes 23-24, 1993, p. 45
  49. ^ [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/opinion/kamel-daoud-black-in-algeria-then-youd-better-be-muslim.html?_r=0 New York Times: "Black in Algeria? Then You’d Better Be Muslim" by KAMEL DAOUD MAY 2, 2016
  50. ^ "IRAQ: Black Iraqis hoping for a Barack Obama win". Los Angeles Times. 2008-08-14.
  51. ^ "Black Iraqis In Basra Face Racism". NPR. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  52. ^ Autonomy, sovereignty, and self-determination: the accommodation of conflicting rights, Hurst Hannum – 1996, p. 198 [12]
  53. ^ Geographical abstracts: Human geography, Volume 14, Issues 5-8, published by Elsevier/Geo Abstracts 2002, p. 852
  54. ^ "Syria's Kurds Struggle for Rights". 28 October 2009.
  55. ^ "Kurdistan issues in press interviews: Dr Fuad Omar". Ekurd.net. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  56. ^ [13]
  57. ^ Minorities in the Middle East: a history of struggle and self-expression by Mordechai Nisan, pp 143–144 [14]
  58. ^ "القردة الزانية - الأقباط الأحرار The Free Copts". Freecopts.net. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  59. ^ "A Test of Faith". Orderofmaltacolombia.org. 1997-02-12. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  60. ^ "A Struggle Against Intolerance Embattled Coptic". Netanyahu.org. Archived from the original on 2001-01-28. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  61. ^ Social exclusion: rhetoric, reality, responses, Gerry Rodgers, Charles G. Gore, José B. Figueiredo, International Institute for Labour Studies, United Nations Development Programme – Business & Economics, p. 181
  62. ^ "Slaves in impoverished Yemen dream of freedom". Alarabiya.net. 2010-07-21. Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  63. ^ Race and slavery in the Middle East: an historical enquiry by Bernard Lewis p. 32 https://books.google.com/books?id=WdjvedBeMHYC&pg=PA32
  64. ^ "Press kit: Issues - Racism against Indigenous peoples - World Conference Against Racism". Un.org. 1999-04-01. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  65. ^ "The Maghreb in Black and White - By Brian T. Edwards". Foreign Policy. 2005-01-05. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  66. ^ "Berbers: The Proud Raiders | BBC World Service". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  67. ^ "kalebeul » Berbers attack Moroccan state racism". Archived from the original on 28 October 2006. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  68. ^ "Berber Leader Belkacem Lounes_ 'There Is No Worse Colonialism Than That of the Pan-Arabist Clan that Wants to Dominate Our People' - CIJR Databank". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  69. ^ ''Race, Culture and Difference'' by James Donald, Ali Rattansi p 27. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  70. ^ "Asian maids in Gulf face maltreatment". Middle East Online. 10 October 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  71. ^ Rabiya Parekh (2006-04-04). "World Service - World Have Your Say: South Asian workers in Saudi". BBC. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  72. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Asian immigrant forced to clean mosques for 'skipping prayers' - Adnkronos Religion". Adnkronos.com. 2003-04-07. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  73. ^ Prusher, Ilene (2009-06-16). "Poll: 90% of ME views Jews unfavorably". Jpost.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  74. ^ Sutter, John D. (March 2012). "Slavery's last stronghold". CNN.