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  1. 2,099 Posts.
    Found these two interesting articles for Hardman readers, I didn't know that Mauritania had a navy, probably a row boat with a sail. Hey Sailorgirl you haven't been wearing two hats have you, LOL,LOL.

    Mauritania removes naval forces commander
    Mauritania, Politics, 6/17/2003
    President of Mauritania Mu'aweya Wild Taye' said yesterday that the commander of Mauritania's naval force Col. Abdul Rahman Weld al-Kour was removed from his position in the course of a series of reforms in the military establishment which targeted those who were involved in the coupe attempt which took place on June 8th.

    Weld al-Kour, who is a cousin for the President of Mauritania, is considered one of his closet associates and had his post since 1988. The official sources did not clarify the reasons behind removing the commander of the navy, but it is thought that this measure falls in the course of changes made by the president in the military establishment following the coupe. The Lt. in the Mauritania's army al-Sheikh Weld Baya was appointed a commander for the navy in Mauritania instead of al-Kour.

    On the other hand, the Mauritania's president appointed the commander of the guards chief Col. Welad Weld Hmeidoun who was removed from his post on Sunday as a director general for the studies and documentation office ( foreign intelligence). Press information said also that al-Taye' removed his special military guard Col. Muhammad Weld Abdi and appointed him as a leader for a military zone.

    Posted on Tue, Jun. 17, 2003
    Mauritania's Blacks Complain of Arab Bias
    Associated Press
    NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - They are the taxi drivers, security guards, street vendors and house maids in this Arab-dominated west African capital. Dressed in long Arab gowns, and speaking perfect Arabic, they blend in seamlessly.

    But they are black. And that, says Mauritania's black African community, relegates them to second-class citizenship.

    "The only thing I can tell you is that they ... don't like us," Ahmed, a taxi driver, said of the light-skinned Arabs and Berbers who make up more than half of the Sahara Desert nation's 2.6 million people.

    Black and mixed-race people - still commonly referred to by Arabs as Haratins, or slaves - have occupied the lowest castes of Mauritanian society since Arab nomads invaded sub-Saharan Africa in the 9th century and enslaved black farmers.

    Two decades after slavery was officially abolished here, the practice endures, Amnesty International and other human rights groups say. Many nominally freed slaves continue to work unpaid out of necessity.

    President Maaouya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya - who survived a bloody coup attempt last week - has punctuated decades of oppressive rule with purges of blacks.

    When a 1989 land dispute sparked fierce ethnic fighting, the government deported an estimated 330,000 people to neighboring Senegal and Mali.

    Officially, only foreign nationals were forced to leave. But tens of thousands of black Mauritanians were among those rounded up and forced to flee on airplanes, buses, cattle trucks and canoes.

    Two years later, Taya's government executed 503 black military officers accused of plotting a coup, opposition leaders say.

    Today, members of the Peul, Wolof, Bambara and Soninke ethnic groups complain their languages are marginalized, and they are excluded from top government, military and private sector jobs.

    "Here, if you don't know an influential black person, then you can't get a decent job," said a first-year university student who gave her name only as Aicha.

    "These people are my friends," she said laughing and pointing at her Arab classmates, "but they are racist."

    But at least on campus, students feel free to discuss the issue.

    When the opposition Action for Change party began raising questions about slavery and race relations in parliament, it was banned in January 2002.

    Ahmed, the taxi driver, kept looking over his shoulder, afraid he would be whisked off to prison for daring to speak about racism.

    "In this country, even the doors, the tiles and the ceiling have ears. Everything you do or say is reported to the authorities. You cannot trust anybody," Ahmed said in Wolof.

    Discrimination and isolation are just as keenly felt by black Mauritanians living outside the capital.

    In the black dominated city of Rosso, near the Senegalese border, last week's coup attempt went virtually unnoticed. A few soldiers guarding the only road leading to the capital were the only sign of the bloody street battles that overwhelmed Nouakchott for two days.

    "What is happening in Nouakchott is between them, I mean the whites," said a 50-year-old tradesman. "We, the blacks, are not concerned."

    For at least some black professionals, the problem isn't one of racism so much as education.

    "How can you expect to get a good job, without a proper education?" asked Fatma, a successful, black computer engineer. "Education is free for everyone in this country. We have to start sending our kids to school."

    In recent years, the government has taken steps to make the country more inclusive of black Africans.

    Three of the 18 Cabinet members are of African descent, and black Mauritanians also hold key positions in a number of state-owned companies.

    Last year, legislators passed a law making primary education compulsory for all Mauritanian children, with special emphasis on the Adwaba - villages mainly inhabited by former slaves.

    But such steps are just a drop in the ocean, according to many black Mauritanians.

    "We need to restore a climate of comprehension, shed light on past events, bring back deportees and have a dialogue to resolve the problem of cohabitation," said Ibrahima Sarr, a black opposition parliamentarian jailed for four years during the 1980s for his role in publishing a manifesto of black demands.

    Fatma, the computer engineer, believes black people can't wait for the government to solve their problems.

    "One day I am convinced that the country will be led by a black Mauritanian," Fatma said. "But the entire community has to work toward achieving that aim. We have to turn our weaknesses into our strength."

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