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Asian victims children of a lesser God?

I refer to the letter Iraq war factor in tsunami aid . I am not entirely surprised by the writer's defensive spin for the rich Gulf Arab states' stingy contributions to the tsunami survivors.

I have come across worse cases of such spin, with some even blaming the Americans for 'controlling' these Arab states' purse strings. The only common thread for these excuses appears to be a lack of evidence in their wishful excuses. But I see their frantic need to defend the indefensible, especially in the face of massive and generous aid from the non-Muslim world.

Ironically, the majority of those who perished or who are now suffering due to the tsunami just happen coincidentally to be Muslims. While Malaysia's misfortune has been comparatively light, Indonesia's experience has been unspeakably terrible.

The official death toll is at a frightening 100,000 while the total expected death toll could well be more horrendous. Millions remain homeless, having lost everything they owned. Their rehabilitation may take decades, requiring further billions of dollars.

The world in general, both governments and the general public, has rallied wonderfully to help the victims. Australia, China, Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, US, even afflicted India and Malaysia and a host of other countries have contributed magnificently, while the UN has played a leading role. Even the IMF has played its part with a massive US$250 million donation.

But as everyone knows, the most disappointing group has been the very rich Gulf Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a few others. Despite being badgered by the Kuwaiti and Lebanese press, their donations continued to be shamefully pitiful.

Oil-rich Kuwait, who owes the free world an enormous debt for liberating its people from an invading force some years back, the official response has been disgraceful, ungrateful and uncaring in general. It gave a pathetic US$2 million, and only raised this to an equally shameful US$10 million after its own press had castigated its stinginess.

Meanwhile, Croesus-rich Saudi Arabia, which had promised just US$10 million has reluctantly raised it to US$30 million, again, only after the Gulf press lambasted it for acting the scrooge. But really, only US$30 million for a country blessed with the Midas touch of having a virtually endless supply of black gold.

But the issue goes beyond these rich Arab states' parsimonious attitude. There is in them an inherent racist attitude clouded with religious rationalisation towards their Asian Muslim brethren.

Tarek Fatah , a Muslim leader and television host based in Toronto stated angrily in the Daily Times of Pakistan: 'The disappointment is not just because of the pathetic contributions by Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. It is compounded by the message being repeated ad nauseam in their mosques and media that the earthquake was a punishment from God for the sins of the people of South and Southeast Asia.

'The Kuwaitis and Saudi Islamists lecturing the world about morality is an outrage. Or is it that in the eyes of most Kuwaitis and Saudis, the dead belonged to the despised underclass who live as fourth class citizens in the Gulf States. Dark-skinned Indian, Sri Lankan, Indonesian; truck drivers, cooks and maids; all children of a lesser God in the eyes of these Islamists of the Gulf?'

Some food for thought for our Arab-philes.

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