Saturday, November 9, 2002


FATWAS AND FARRAKAHN

To say that Kola Boof is the target of a fatwa sentencing her to death for blaspheming Islam only begins to tell the story of this controversial Sudanese-born author.

Boof, who is now under the protection of U.S. government agents, told WorldNetDaily that her first book about women who live under Islam prompted a phone call from Osama bin Laden, with whom she had become acquainted in Marrakesh, Morocco.

"If I had the time, I would come there and slit your throat myself," she recalls bin Laden saying in February 1998.

Along with bin Laden, Boof's poetry collection in 1997 angered many Muslims in North Africa, but her writing did not meet the full wrath of militant Muslims until Sept. 26, when Sudanese diplomat Gamal Ibrahim issued the fatwa.

The decree, calling for her to be beheaded, was given after a Shariah court in London's Islamic community declared her guilty of "deliberately and maliciously bearing false witness against religious sentiment and of willing treason against her Arab Muslim father's people and against her nation, the Sudan."

Supporters of Boof maintain her real offense is to speak out against oppression of women by Muslims and to cast a spotlight on the slavery and genocide carried out by Sudan's Islamist regime.

'I don't believe bin Laden's behind the fatwa,' she said. 'But I have no doubt that he would support it. He would be saying, 'They should have killed her years ago.'"

Intimidation

On Thursday, a handful of demonstrators gathered on Boof's behalf in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., and outside the United Nations building in New York City. Publicists for the event included Sudan activist Maria Sliwa, who said only about a dozen showed up.

Intimidation by the Sudanese Embassy and by people claiming to be members of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam scared away others who wanted to protest, organizers insist.

One week ago, the vice president of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the United Negro Improvement Association was told by a representative of the Sudan Embassy to not participate in the demonstration. The UNIA said it urged the embassy to issue a statement rescinding the fatwa, but was refused.

Another demonstration, in Los Angeles, had to be canceled, Boof said, "because the organizer was so terrified about Farrakhan's people calling her that she pulled out."

The author also said people claiming to represent Jesse Jackson called her, insisting that she cancel an appearance at Loveland Baptist Church in Fontana, Calif., pastored by Sudan activist Chuck Singleton.

They were saying "don't move on this, just shut up and be quiet for a minute, and let things be ironed out," she said.

Boof noted, however, that when a fatwa is put on one's life, there is no sense in being quiet.

"If I'm going to be dead soon, I might as well just go and scream," she told WND.

Jihad and genocide

Boof says that since February, she has personally received warnings from Sudanese government officials to be silent.

Sudan's National Islamic Front leader Hasan Turabi, who ostensibly is under house arrest, called Boof on Sept. 26, after the fatwa was issued.

"He said, 'Kola, you're dead,'" she recounted. "He told me point blank, 'You're going to be killed, we can't do anything with you; you don't want to shut up.'"

Some observers of the NIF government say the house arrest is mostly a show for the U.N., and that Turabi still is giving orders to the front lines of Sudan's war with the south.

Boof said she had become acquainted with Turabi, who told her, "Kola, I tried to go to bat for you, I've been warning you for almost a year now that you are causing a lot of trouble by being flamboyant."

The Khartoum regime has declared a jihad against the mostly Christian and animist south that has resulted in more than 2 million deaths and 4.5 million displaced people in the past two decades. The U.S. Congress has termed the government's actions genocide and recently passed a bill, the Sudan Peace Act, that punishes the Islamist regime for its atrocities. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the kidnappings, killings, rape and enslavement "the worst human rights nightmare on the planet."

"As a black African woman, I cannot and will not be silent as black men in Arab nations are chained up like dogs to the back doors of Muslim households and fed, literally, from doggie bowls," Boof said in a statement she issued regarding the fatwa. "I will not be silent as African women are raped, mutilated and mentally demeaned by sadistic human beings calling themselves children of Allah. I will not be silent as the number of little black boys who are sodomized by their Arab masters continues to soar, while even worse atrocities attend the lives of little black girls."

Atrocities too close to home

Boof said she was about 10 to 12 years of age there are no records of her birth when her Egyptian father and Somali mother were slaughtered in their backyard in 1978 by Arab Murahleen bandits for speaking out too openly about the coming Arab regime.

She was then put up for adoption by her Egyptian grandmother, who felt that because Kola was "too dark," she would not fit into the family and only be subject to ridicule.

Through UNICEF, she went to London and was adopted by an Ethiopian family, who eventually gave her up. The family thought she might be a witch, according to Boof, because she was "so talkative and intelligent for a girl child."

UNICEF eventually placed her in a black family in Washington, D.C., in 1980.

In an interview yesterday on Pacifica radio, Boof was challenged by a representative of the Sudan Embassy in Washington, who insisted that she was not Sudanese.

Boof says, however, that she was born in Omdurman, which is part of north Khartoum, a fact that has been substantiated by many members of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, who knew her father, including leader John Garang. Boof said she remembers being in Garang's home as a girl.

She said she is familiar with the kind of atrocities recounted by ex-slave Frances Bok, who stood with President Bush as he signed the Sudan Peace Act on Oct. 21.

"I witnessed the kind of raids he's talking about, where Arab men will come in on horses in the little villages, and they'll shoot all the men in the head, and then they'll kidnap the children and women, and you never see those people again."

The Khartoum government is paying for these militia she maintains, "no matter what they say. Everybody there knows."

As a child, she said she witnessed a woman with six daughters who could not bear a son be rolled up in her dowry carpet and burned alive after gasoline was poured on her.

Critics charge Boof is not qualified to speak about Sudan's current situation because she has not lived there for 20 years, and her most recent visit was in the mid-1990s.

"I'm saying, Sudan was just declared a terrorist nation [by the U.S.], so why should I have to have been there lately?" she asked. "It's the same thing going on."

Anti-Islam tone

Boof said she writes about black women's lives, but quotes that are negative toward Islam invariably appear throughout her work.

" I can't deny it, there is a definite anti-Islam tone to all my books," she said. "And, in fact there is an anti-Arab [tone]. That, I can't deny."

The end of her latest book includes an interview in which she confesses her prejudice against Arab people.

"I've admitted I need to work on getting over some of these traumas," she said, "But what else am I to think when Arabs have only murdered my father and mother and harassed people, burned up women in carpets? I mean, that's my view of Arab people."

She said she recognizes that there are many peace-loving Arabs who are trapped under the Khartoum regime, which she calls a "mafia government."

Though Boof considers herself a "pagan rebel" who would not vote for George W. Bush, she admires the president's stand against Iraq and warns Americans to not trust Arab nations.

"I love this country; I think this is the best country on earth, " she said, noting that while she cannot give details of the U.S. protection she is under, "they're treating me like a queen."

Selling some books

Boof admits that some of the controversy surrounding her work has to do with a contract that requires her to appear topless on the back of her books.

This is a representation of her animist African beliefs, she said.

"Even many Africans complain, [saying], 'Kola, we could use you so much better if you weren't doing that.'"

Her previous books have never sold more than 8,000 copies, but amid the current controversy, her latest title, "Long Train to the Redeeming Sin: Stories About African Women," is rocketing up the Amazon.com sales chart.

She notes that this has given some cheer to her publisher in Rabat, Morocco, which suffered the firebombing of its building because of her work.

"They're like, 'Well at least she's selling some books for a change.'"

Boof insists that she did not want to make public her acquaintance with bin Laden, but was forced to reply to recent claims in the Spanish press by a former roommate, Lourdes Harris, that she had an affair with bin Laden in Marrakesh. That claim was picked up by a "diary" column in the London Guardian on Oct. 24.

The Sudanese writer denies the story, but admits that bin Laden tried to pick up on her at a restaurant and later came to her hotel room.

"I can't deny he was in the room," she said. "He was only there because I was trying to get out of being around him without getting hurt."

Bin Laden is known to have lived in Sudan for several years after being expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991. Boof said she came across bin Laden in North Africa while trying to establish a career as an actress.