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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

An open letter to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Dear Omar,

After writing that, I feel I should add: “Thank you so much for the socks you sent for my birthday.” Where I come from Omar means grandmother, except it’s spelt ouma. Anyway, she would never have sent me anything as boring as socks. The only thing she ever sent me was a subpoena.

Here I am waffling on about my granny while you can’t even sleep in the same place two nights in a row for fear of being snatched by secret agents and whisked away to stand trial in The Hague on multiple war crimes charges. Sorry, it was insensitive of me.
From what I have read — in Sudan’s state-owned media mainly — you are a decent sort who would never be party to such terrible atrocities. I think I know what has happened here. In Cape Town we have an Italian who is about to be extradited to Palermo to face some sort of Mafia-related charges. He has pointed out that the authorities are mistaking him for another Vito Palazzolo. It is obvious the International Criminal Court has you mixed up with someone else called Omar al-Bashir.

One of these smarty-pants analysts recently described you as hot-headed and prone to angry outbursts when you feel your pride has been wounded. Well, who isn’t? My wife, Brenda, insults me all the time and I react just like you do. Okay, so I don’t hire people to come around and chop off her arms and legs, but I do shout quite a bit.

Those who accuse you of backing the Janjaweed in Darfur have obviously been dabbling in ganja weed themselves. Have you been to the United Nations? I wouldn’t recommend it. Everyone is permanently stoned. Can’t get a word of sense out of them.

Speaking of which, congratulations on apprehending that brazen hussy Lubna Hussein. Who does she think she is, swanning about Khartoum in trousers?

Forget what the depraved Westerners are saying. Look at cities like New York, London and Paris. They are full of unmarried women wearing skirts, driving cars, showing their elbows in public and even talking to men who aren’t their brothers. It is an appalling situation and I would take the whip to the lot of them if I could afford the air fare.

Personally, I think the Hussein girl got off lightly: 40 lashes is a tap on the wrist in my book. I read that 10 of the women she was arrested with have already been flogged. They probably enjoyed it. She was working as a UN journalist when she was picked up for violating Sudan’s sensible dress code for women.


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