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Islamists in Sudan: too many faces of the same coin

It has been really amazing to see dictators speaking of democracy and criminals demanding justice.

 


Sudanese Islamic parties and groups have organized a protest on Monday July 8, 2013 in front of the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum in support of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, claiming that the 30 June wave of protests was a military coup against the constitutional legitimacy of the elected president, and calling for prosecution of Abdul Fatah Al Sisi, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Egypt and Dr. Mohamed Al Baradei, the leader of the National Salvation Front. Although the government of Sudan, dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP), announced that “whatever is happening in Egypt is an internal affair” - parliamentarians representing NCP have joined in the protests.

Looking at the groups party to this process exposes many Islamic-driven subdivisions from the same cell of the Muslim Brotherhood. These include the Muslim Brotherhood themselves, the Popular Congress Party (PCP), the Just Peace Forum (JPF), the Islamic Constitutional Front (ICF) and the Saehoon group.

The Just Peace Forum was formed in 2004 by a racist group of Islamists led by Eltayeb Mustafa, the uncle of president Omar Elbashir. Its main aim was to mobilize people against ‘Southerners’ and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that brought peace between the north and south and gave southerners the right to self-determination which resulted, in 2011, in the independence of South Sudan. JPF claims include the allegation that Northerners have been abused by the Southerners and that jihad is the only way to bring about peace and justice.

The Islamic Constitutional Front was formed in Dec 2012, and called for the building of an Islamic constitution after South Sudan secession, claiming that the 2005 interim constitution was invalid to in the eyes of the Muslim majority, & crying shame at the Islamic front for having ruled for 24 years without enforcing an Islamic constitution.

It is worth noting that civil society constitution-making initiatives were banned from organising public activities or accessing the internally dispersed camps around Khartoum which are home to two thirds of its overall population. ICF is the one and only initiative aimed at constitution-making that is allowed to conduct activities in public.

Saehoon is the most recent Islamist group. It floated to the surface in November 2012, after the coup attempt made by ex-spies Chief Salah Gosh, the Brigadier-General Mohamed Ibrahim and the Major-General Adil Eltayeb. They are calling for reforming NCP and stopping the war in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile through declaring jihad against rebel groups.

The Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Eltorabi was formed in 1999 after the split in the ruling Islamic front that resulted in the National Congress Party (NCP) continuing in power while consigning the PCP to the opposition camp. NCP has intensified its crackdown on PCP affiliates; the friends of yesterday who have become the worst of enemies today.

Arbitrary arrests and detention for years on end are the lot of some active PCP members and even the chief of the party, Eltorabi, has exhausted the party, which has no difference of vision from all the other Islamist groups. PCP had allies among secular democratic political parties in 2009 when the National Consensus Forces (NCF) was formed to unify the opposition parties against NCP. But no more.

Ibrahim Elsanosi; the vice president of PCP has switched from democratic speech to that of the divine and has been addressing the protestors saying that Al Sisi is the Lord's enemy and the National Rescue Front is a coalition of the secular entity that is enemy number one. You would never imagine that  his party had ever been in alliance with secular political parties in Sudan in the NCF.

The Islamic Front was formed in 1985 after they had split away from the Muslim Brotherhood. They took over power through a military coup and ousted the elected democratic government on June 30, 1989. Rather in contrast to the sentiments they have expressed about Egypt's June 30 wave of protests; they immediately banned all political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations; arrested, tortured and killed whoever dared to oppose the regime and forced thousands to flee the country fearing for their lives. PCP hypocrisy and double standards are now shining through their rhetoric on Egyptian affairs; hopefully democratic parties of the NSF will get to see this.  It has been really amazing to see dictators speaking of democracy and criminals demanding justice.

The dilemma of Sudanese politics

The aspiration for a democratic secular state is endangered by having Muslim Brotherhoods sub-sets in power and in the opposition as well,  leaving far too little space for democratic secular parties and a youth movement to grow in, intensifying the threat of a crackdown and allowing the Islamist opposition to protest and demonstrate to the world how democratic the Sudanese government is.

Another thing that made us sit up was seeing police authorities protecting the Islamist pro-democracy protests; while last year during June and July peaceful popular anti-regime protests activists reported that over 2000 persons were arbitrary arrested by national intelligence and security services and detained for 5-8 weeks.

The June/July detainees testified that they have been tortured and maltreated by security officers. A junior female student in the University of Khartoum has lost an eye to a rubber bullet shot inside the university campus. 13 teenagers were shot to death by police forces in Nyala on July 31, 2013.

While the June/July anti regime protests were raging; Sudanese Islamists were chanting in the streets and celebrating their Egyptian victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi's inauguration. Today, a year later, they are bemoaning that Morsi has been ousted,  not so much for Morsi's sake as out of fear that Sudanese youth will be inspired by their Egyptian counterparts, who once before drove Sudanese people to take to the streets, on January 30,2011 and in the June/July summer 2012 protests - in an attempt to bring down the Islamic Front/ NCP regime. It is impressive to watch how Egyptian political dynamics influence and inspire Sudanese politics.

About the author

Yosra is a Sudanese blogger & activist. As an advocate for the rights of women, refugees & displaced communities, Yosra has been selected as a correspondent for Voices of Our Future 2013 by World Pulse. She blogs in English/Arabic here & tweets @sudanesedream

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