Sunday Africa Blog Roundup: Mauritanian Islamists, West African Pirates, Music and Islam

Kal continues his series on Islamists in Algeria and Mauritania.

Via Texas in Africa, a post from Modern Day Pirate Tales on an incident of piracy off the coast of Benin.

Pirates boarded a Liberian-flagged, German-operated tanker earlier today. The Cancale Star was attacked by six or seven pirates, according to the tanker’s captain, Jarolslavs Semenovics. They boarded the vessel as she was steaming about 18 nautical miles off the coast of Benin, put a gun to the head of a deckhand and gained entry to the ship. They then forced Captain Semenovics to open the ship’s safe and emptied it of cash. The attack occurred after nightfall, local time.

[…]

Pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea have a reputation of being much more violent than their Somali brethren, and though overall incidents of piracy in the region are far below the numbers we see off East Africa, this region is still the second worst for attacks on mariners.

Two that I missed last week: Inside Islam looks at music and Islam in Indonesia, and the Project on Middle East Democracy points us to a report by Carnegie Endowment on Middle East Democracy Promotion.

Andrew Heavens at Reuters recounts his experiences during a recent AU delegation visit to Darfur.

Darfur has got used to hosting visitors in the six years since it became one of the world’s best known conflict zones.

North Darfur’s governor Osman Kebir told Tuesday’s trip he had welcomed about 800 delegations since July 2006 which would make about one a day, without adjustment for understandable overstatement.

One official was overheard referring to El Fasher’s “red carpet camps” where residents turn out to welcome party after party.

It was a reminder just how slick all sides to the Darfur conflict have become in selling their story to passing dignitaries — the rebels too have their spokespeople, websites and organised media tours.

Critics question the use of these Darfur day-trips, especially around El Fasher, which is a world away from the region’s remaining badlands where four groups of foreigners have been kidnapped since March.

Members of the AU group defended the visit, saying it was a symbolic gesture of concern and solidarity, adding they would pass on the points made during the 45-minute briefing in Abu Shouk to Khartoum and their headquarters in Addis Ababa.

It might have been interesting to find out what the residents of Abu Shouk themselves thought about the quick consultation.

But this journalist and a colleague were quickly brought back into line when we tried to sneak out of the police compound and walk to the edge of the actual camp.

“You can’t go there, what are you doing?” asked one of the officials with the AU group. “You might speak to the wrong people … And why are you making things more complicated for us than they already are?”

Africa is a Country promotes a new African photography blog.

Finally, Shashank Bengali has written a touching piece on his imminent departure from Africa.

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