February 7, 2011

North Sudan's Islamic hopes

In speaking to a mass rally of Sufis in North Khartoum on Saturday, February 5, President Bashir commented on the implications of the Southern referendum. [The south has voted for independence.] The north has an opportunity now to focus on Bashir's vision of the country, without the need to accommodate the interests of the south.

At the rally, Bashir said the North will have finally determined its identity. He said, ""Ninety-eight percent of the people in north Sudan are Muslims... Islam is the official religion of the state, and the state will govern by Sharia'a, and this is the basis on which we are going to build a new state."

Opposition parties have said that the ruling National Congress Party's emphasis on Islamic Sharia'a after secession is a prelude to a "police state" used to crush any dissent.

During the meeting, a covanent signed by nine Sufi sect leaders was given to Bashir. The Sheikhs promised to backup the Islamic discourse and support the president. They praised the Islamic achievements of the president.

The Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowment also spoke to the gathering of national leaders of the Sufis. Azhari al Tijani said that though the south has voted for secession, the mother-state in the north will stay coherent and it will cooperate with the newly born state in the south. He noted that the meeting sends a message that the Sudanese people back their leadership strongly.

COMMENT: In his speech, Bashir referred to "Salvation regime."  He appears to be using a historical reference to a previous version of the government he lead in his early days of leadership. “The new state in the North is the second republic and it is the Salvation in new phase,” said the president.

His autocratic rule began after he lead a military coup in 1989. At the time, he suspended political parties and instituted the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation which began a program of institutionalizing Sharia law. The National Salvation government was reconstructed 4 years later as Bashir gained more power, and 10 years later the government allowed opposition parties access to the ruling process and used the National Congress Party label, which had been a front for the National Islamic Front.


In a speech to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) personnel, Bashir received allegiance from the officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers on the hearing and obedience in wealth and poverty as long as he sticks to Sharia law to preserve the country's security and sovereignty.
[awkward translation above: perhaps ... upon hearing the speech, the soldiers offered their obedience, no matter what the economic situation, as long as ....

In addition to being President of the Republic, Bashir is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.


UPDATE: In a speech on Tuesday, February 8, in a mass rally in Umruaba at the start of a tour to  North Kordofan state, President Bashir said, "You must uphold Islamic Shariah, Sudanese values and morals, all being attributes that distinguish Sudanese from others."


UPDATE: Vice President Ali Osman Taha met with Muslim scholars on February 19, to get further understanding of what should be included in the Sharia law.  He promised "that the points raised would be addressed and that it was necessary to always listen to the voices and advice of the Muslim scholars in the application of the shaira laws and to their views on the application of the sharia laws and in the commitment to the Islamic orientation in the future particularly after Sudan gained distinctiveness following the secession of the south."


photo of Bashir from 2009,  Sudan Tribune

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