Under the Black Flag

Send in the Clowns

Karagiozis is a mythical Greek character created sometime during the Ottoman occupation (1455-1827).  He manages to outwit the Turk at every turn by being funny, dishonest at times, and a very quick thinker.  For example, he discusses a business with a Turk and proposes an equal sharing of the wealth.  “What’s yours is mine,” he tells the sleepy Turk, “and what’s mine is mine.”  The dumb one agrees and goes back to sleep.  The Greek audiences laugh their heads off.

As a child, I used to watch Karagiozis as an animated character in outdoor theatres.  The name Karagiozis now means a clown, somebody not to be taken seriously.  But the recent warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, by a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, reminded me of my childhood idol, this great mythical con man.

Bashir is a gangster who is responsible for murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape, attacks on civilians, and pillaging towns and villages.  He masterminded a plan to destroy three of the largest ethnic groups in Darfur by using the Sudanese armed forces, the Janjaweed militias, and the entire government apparatus to target civilians.  The charges state that over 35,000 people have been killed, 2.7 million displaced, and rape has been a common tactic, with one third of rape victims being children.  Nice...

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