“Hey Abid, why are you here? Do not take anything, okay? I know what your people do.” Aimed towards the ears of a black man whom had just entered, the hoarse voice of Lamin echoed throughout the mosque. The black worshiper left. I turned towards Lamin, an elderly Libyan migrant from Misrata whom I had met recently. I asked if he knew the man whom just left. He replied “no, I do not know him, but I know his people.” I was confused why he called him ‘Abid’. To my natural question of how he knew the man’s name, he replied “all of us in Misrata call blacks Abid. They are fake Libyans, since we are white Arabs. All these Abid are criminals: they steal everything, our jobs, our homes and even lands because Gaddafi likes them”. Abid was a nickname charged with a painful reference to the dark history of slavery, so common in the history of Mediterranean countries. In Libya, the slave trade continued at least until the 1930s, although some cases can still be documented today. Indeed Abid means slave. Continue reading
Do you remember Darfur? Probably many of you will recall the name of this region of Sudan. Some of you shall remember the malnourished children and the suffering of the refugees at the border with Chad, displaced by one of the most lengthy and horrible genocides. Yet you hear about Darfur less and less, because meanwhile other terrible events have happened, both natural disasters and human troubles, such as the endless suffering in Iraq and more recently Burma.
The genocide in Darfur is still happening now, while I am writing. Yet the tragedy is today classified as back-page-news, hidden behind stories that can attract main advertising companies and sponsors to the various newspapers and T.V. programs. So if here in Aberdeen teachers have organised a rally of red-Tshirted children to support the freedom-struggle of the Burmese monks, I discovered that few of my students have any idea of what is happening today in Darfur. Continue reading