Friday, January 11, 2008

"Tolerance has vanished from Sudanese life"

On December 2, a Sudanese newspaper columnist named Khaled Fadhel published a scathing attack on the rise of Islamist fanaticism in his country and the regime's fostering of this trend in order to suppress free expression. Courtesy of MEMRI, here are some excerpts:

"[After a Sudanese] court imposed a prison sentence on the British schoolteacher... for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, thousands of Sudanese expressed their opinion in rowdy demonstrations in the streets of Khartoum. For the British, the right to demonstrate - as part of human rights and freedom of expression - is [a concept] that is taken for granted and which arouses neither anger nor surprise.

"But in a country like Sudan, freedom of expression is reserved for [opinions] that are in line with the positions of the [ruling] National Congress Party. [To wit,] when one hundred Sudanese students from the University of Khartoum demonstrated against the tragedies taking place in Darfur... - they were brutally put down and persecuted by the authorities!...

"The important question is whether Sudanese society, particularly the Muslim [society], has become extremist. It is clear that religion-based prohibitions and accusations have become rampant - so much so that it is difficult to imagine leading a normal life in such circumstances... It has reached a point where even thoughts can be grounds for accusations of heresy, for making one's killing licit, and [even] for attempted murder...

"Tolerance has vanished from Sudanese life... to such an extent that [even] the civil war [3] has been relabeled 'jihad,' [implying that the members of] one side were sacrificing their lives for the sake of Allah, while the others were destroyed for clinging to falsehood and [worshiping] idols. The paradox is that, although both sides included Muslims, Christians and followers of the African religions, the war has been described as 'Islamic jihad' against the loathsome infidels! This is a saddening and shameful fact, that ends all hope for tolerance in Sudan.

(Emphasis added-DD)

Fadhel specifically addresses the September 2006 murder of newspaper editor Mohammed Taha:

"The most dangerous phenomenon - among all of the extremist [tendencies] and religious and ethnic tensions [created] by the Islamist regime - is the lack of rational thought, and the blatant dominance of emotion [over reason], even among the educated [circles], or those who consider themselves educated... The Sudanese Muslims have become easily incited. [They respond] to any call, without thinking or examining the situation from all its aspects. Emotional outbursts and lack of rational thought [create] an optimal climate for the extremists to act and take control [of society].

"The late [editor of the Sudanese daily Al-Wifaq] Muhammad Taha [who was murdered in September 2006] fell victim to a malicious campaign... [waged] from pulpits of the mosques. [4] With my own ears I heard a preacher urging the worshippers to attend the trial of the 'one who cursed the Prophet,' though he knew full well that the entire incident was [based on] a mistake... But climate of madness, and the dominance of emotion [over reason], won the day.

Fadhel also describes how this mentality has led to the genocide in Darfur. Flemming Rose at Pajamas Media notes another example of how the Sudanese regime has linked its intolerance of free expression to its campaign in that region:

Sweden and Norway were ready to deploy 400 soldiers in Darfur to support the UN peacekeeping forces, but due to the cartoon crisis in 2006 the regime in Khartoum has refused to accept troops from Scandinavia.


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir stated in November that he won’t accept soldiers from Scandinavian countries, where newspapers published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

”No one who speaks blasphemeous of the prophet will be allowed to set foot on Sudan soil,” said President al-Bashir.

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Mohammed in September 2005, and the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet reprinted the cartoons in January 2006. None of the big Swedish newspapers published the cartoons, but in the fall of 2007 they reproduced drawings of Mohammed as a dog by Swedish artist Lars Vilks that were censored by several Swedish art institutions.

Sudan is a horrific case study in how the Islamist war on intellectual freedom leads ultimately to terrorism and genocide.


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