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Relief for tsunami-ravaged nations « Previous | |Next »
January 7, 2005

From the air Aceh looks to be worse than a war zone, so comprehensive is the scale of destruction. Greg Barton observes, if it were not for the overwhelming response of the international community, then the suffering of the Acehnese would have been many times worse than it is.
Mike Thompson, The worst is yet to come

The situation in Muslim Aceh in the absence of the international relief effort would be unspeakably bad.

In a previous post I raised the issue of the absence of the Arab states in the Middle East in the international community. The response from Muslims of Asia, where most of the world's Muslims live, and the Muslim diaspora of Europe, the US and Australia, has been to give generously and to send volunteers to pull bodies from the wreckage and to feed and treat the survivors. This is very different from the minimal response by the conspicuously silent Arab world in the Middle East.

Barton addresses this paralysis of generosity on the part of certain Arab states. He says:

"The traditionalist Muslims of Aceh, with their mystical, Sufistic approach to life and faith, are a world away from the fundamentalist Islamists of Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states. The Acehnese have never been particularly open to the bigoted "reformism" of radical Islamist groups linked to Saudi Arabia.....Perhaps it is for this reason that aid for Aceh has been so slow coming from wealthy Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia."

However, Juan Cole puts the lack of generosity into context with the generosity of the US. Maybe, but Saudi Arabia, which receives around $100 billion a year from its oil wealth, only gave $30 million. According to Abu Aardvark some Arab commentators are raising the issue of the failure of Arab states and publics to offer substantive assistance.

Greg Barton does say that these differences between Muslims over the generosity of tsunami aid undermines the conservative discourse that juxtaposes Islam and Western civilisation in a simplistic dichotomy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:48 AM | | Comments (0)