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The 'fundamentalist' agenda for human rights: the Sudan and Algeria.

This essay contends that expressions such as "Islamic fundamentalism," "Islamic revivalism," "Islamic absolutism," "political Islam," and "Islamic reawakening," taken independently, do not provide a sufficient description of the phenomenon. The author proposes the use of an alternative expression "Islamic exclusivity" because: (i) these groups seek to monopolize Islam and exclude other groups from its arena. They do not consider differing groups and parties that also invoke the Islamic rhetoric within their respective countries to be Islamists (or sufficiently Islamist). (ii) They call for the application of ancient codes of Islam from a monist perspective that excludes all that amends or contradicts them. (iii) The term gives some sense of the type of political organization these groups adopt an exclusive organization the membership of which is not open to any ordinary or average Muslim. (iv) Although they rarely speak about their plans, these groups adopt all-embracing programs which are exclusive in their nature and attempt to provide solutions to all the problems of humanity. These programs are not necessarily written, in many instances they can only be inferred from the discourse of each movement.

Although Western in origin, the concept of "human rights" is increasingly gaining universality. It presupposes the existence of a universal human nature common to all peoples, emphasizes the dignity and rights of the individual, and implies the need for a democratic society as a necessary atmosphere in which those rights can be enjoyed. Human rights, as embodied in international declarations and various covenants and instruments, are secular in nature and transcendental to religious, cultural, ethnic and economic boundaries.

There have been many attempts to establish human rights documents which parallel that enunciated by the International Declaration of Human Rights. These attempts are usually premised on cultural, regional, and/or religious uniqueness. In the Arab and Islamic Worlds, manifestations of these attempts include the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, the Bill of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, and so forth. However, these various attempts are either a reaction to the growing influence of international human rights standards developed in the United Nations' context, or are supplements to them. In both cases, they emulate the general structure and language of the international human rights instruments. To the extent that they are a reaction, these attempts either accept, in toto, or reject, in toto, the philosophical foundations of the international instruments. As I will explain later, the so-called "Islamic fundamentalists," are among those who challenge the very foundations of these international instruments and portray them as a product of Christian culture and Western imperialism.


In recent years there has been a remarkable increase in the number of studies focusing on the interaction of Islam and human rights. These studies follow three lines of argument. First: That religion, whether it is Islam, Christianity or any other, is an intolerant institution that brooks no opposition or constructive criticism. Islam has received substantial attention from the proponents of this argument. This view has recently been supported by a conclusion made by Mahnoush Arsanjani who claims that human rights violations should not be justifiable on the basis of compatibility of the act that produced them with "true" Islam.(1) Other authors agree with this argument to the extent that it refers to Islam as it exists in the scriptures.(2) However, they also recognize other interpretations of those scriptures that are more conducive to human rights. Second: That human rights as they are stated in international law are products of Western culture and imperialism, alien to Islam and Islamic societies, and are materialistic in content.(3) This is the group referred to here as the "fundamentalists." However, other less vehement voices exist within this category, such as al-Ghanoushi and al-Affendi. These are apologists who subscribe to the "fundamentalist" thesis but seek individual justifications for the human rights atrocities committed by states in which "fundamentalism" is being carried out. They claim that Islam as an ideal should not be judged by any given practice. Occasionally they will produce sophisticated arguments hopelessly seeking to justify atrocities or mitigate the negative impact of writings by their most zealot brothers who openly dismiss human rights.

Third: That while Islamic scriptures may contradict human rights in some respects, those scriptures can be reinterpreted constructively and progressively to adapt to human rights. Attempts at the reinterpretation of Islamic scriptures in this direction vary according to the degree of reinterpretation required. Less-radical proponents, such as Mohamed Abduh, Qasim Amin, and Ali Abdul Raziq, call for only partial reconsideration of the scriptures. They argue that the application of Islamic laws (including Hudud punishments) presupposes the existence of an ideal Islamic society that never existed as it was revealed by the holy texts. Radical proponents, such as Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, a Sudanese reformer executed in 1985 for the alleged offense of apostasy (Ridda), advocate wholesale reinterpretation of the Qur'an and the reformation of all aspects of Islamic public law.(4)

The most eloquent and consistent voice among those calling for the reinterpretation of Islamic scriptures to accommodate human rights is that of Abdullahi Al-Na'im. As a member of the Republican Brotherhood established by the late Mahmoud Mohamed Taha in the Sudan in 1946, he maintains that Islamic holy texts contain a "second message of Islam" which suits the needs and aspirations of contemporary human society.(5) As a lawyer and human rights scholar, Al-Na'im made an unparalleled contribution to the crystallization of human rights theory based on Islamic reform. However, it is unclear whether this theory, to the extent that it addresses scriptural Islam, is relevant to popular Islam. The tradition it seeks to reform comprises the holy scriptures of Islam known as Shari'a, rather than popular Islam that dominates many parts of the Islamic world and is in many different respects contradictory to scriptural Islam. Also, the Republican Brotherhood's approach to Islam has failed to attract any significant attention outside its home country, the Sudan. More than forty years since its inception, this approach remains far from being universally accepted. It's enigmatic Sufi synthesis renders it incomprehensible or accessible to most educated Muslims. However, it remains the strongest possibility for Islam's conciliation with modern realities.

The "fundamentalist" thesis has particular import because it is presently gaining momentum in parts of the Arab World. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Islamic exclusivity groups have emerged and mushroomed in many countries and today they are either the strongest opposition parties (Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia), or are partners in the existing governments (Yemen), or are the sole rulers of the country (Sudan).


I have chosen the Sudan and Algeria because, among other things, the exclusivity movements of these two countries, the National Islamic Front (NIF) in the Sudan and the Islamic Front for Salvation (FIS) in Algeria, are among the strongest and most prominent. To examine the human rights agenda of these two movements, one has to dig first in their ideological baggage and practices to see what they have in common. I will rely therefore on the mutual ideological and practical commonalities, bearing in mind that one movement is running a state and the other operates as an outlawed opposition group.

Unfortunately, I could not find any theoretical writings by the leaders of the Algerian FIS. I will therefore rely heavily on press statements made by FIS leaders and their interviews with human rights groups. In the Sudan, Hassan al-Turabi is the sole ideologue of the movement. In an organization that takes immense pride in the fact that until recently it was mainly composed of university graduates, this may seem difficult to comprehend. However, the lack of intellectual production must be understood as a shared strategy of these movements on the one hand and as a pathological determinant of their exclusivity on the other. As I will discuss below concerning Sayyid Qutb and his teachings, this is a strategy through which centralized exclusivity movements concentrate on activism and pragmatism rather than ideas and theories. Because of their highly centralized nature, these movements have centralized sources of ideology, the leader who has temporal (Emir) and religious (Imam) authority over the members. Therefore, in the NIF, al-Turabi is the sole person who has written about its ideology.(6)

Al-Turabi attributes rise of contemporary Islamic exclusivity movements to the prevalence of corruption, immorality, wantonness, tyranny, political instability, economic underdevelopment, and the defeat and subjugation by imperialism and Zionism of the Islamic world.(7) According to him, the factors that strengthened the call for a return to Islam in the Fifties included the failure of the regimes based on both Western and Eastern models and the failure of Arab unity.(8) He argues further that the recent drift toward Islamization has been nourished by the Islamic revolution in Iran, Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan, and the Intifada in Palestine.(9) The West, he contends, is moved by its old grudges and has begun to fight against these movements. Al-Turabi writes:

The movement of Islamic resurgence became an inevitable historical reality that the West and the East and their puppets try to bury through secular education and civil materialistic modernization. However, it continues to grow and mushroom even in alien soils and Western educational institutions, the way Moses grew in the house of Pharaoh. . . . (10)

For al-Turabi the most comprehensive call for a return to Islam was embodied in the teachings of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, the literature of his Egyptian successors, and the teachings of Abul-A'ala al-Mawdudi and al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya in the Indian Peninsula.(11) Within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's literature, al-Turabi singles out Sayyid Qutb as the major influence over his movement.(12)

Sayyid Qutb is widely believed to be the philosopher and mentor of contemporary exclusivity movements and his major work, Ma'alim fi al-Tariq (Milestones), is deemed to be their manifesto. Qutb borrowed his basic ideas from al-Mawdudi, radicalized them, brought them to a new constituency, and facilitated their propagation. By his shrewd use of the immense machine of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and through his own "martyrdom," Qutb's ideas gained popularity.

Two pillars of Qutb's ideology are relevant here. In the first he called for activism in contrast to theorizing and theoretical speculation. He referred to attempts by Muslim scholars to establish programs for the purported Islamic state as "an illusion created by immaturity." He maintained that when a new member joins the exclusivity organization he should leave behind his past and start a new life, completely isolated from that past.(13)

The alternate Islamic society he championed becomes legally existent when one member adopts Islam as Qutb perceived it. When the number of adherents becomes three, the alternate Islamic society becomes materially existent.(14) This new society should initiate the process of applying Islamic law between its own members and fight for its application in the whole of human society. According to Qutb, Islam legislates for existing situations and not for imaginary or speculative ones. Consequently, he specified the duty of an "Islamic movement" to be the achievement of political power that would pave the way and create the material conditions for which Islamic legislation could be ordained. To Qutb, the objective of Islam is the removal by force of all obstacles hindering the creation of an Islamic state in which sovereignty is vested in God and not in man.(15) He emphasized that Islam is by nature confrontational and not defensive, and that the holy duty of Muslims is to assume the leadership of humankind and dismantle non-Islamic rule (jahiliyya).(16) The idea of jahiliyya is the second pillar of Qutb's ideology. Types of sovereignty are classified into Islamic and non-Islamic. Non-Islamic types are branded as jahiliyya, which he defines as the sovereignty of people instead of the sovereignty of God. Unlike al-Mawdudi who first introduced the idea, Qutb did not differentiate between partial jahiliyya and a complete one. Also, he recognized only two societies, an Islamic and a non-Islamic (or jahiliyya society).

Islam recognizes only two types of societies . . . an Islamic one and a jahiliyya. . . . The Islamic society is the one in which Islam is applied to all aspects of life. . . . It is not just a society comprising people who call themselves Muslims while the Shari'a of Islam is not applied as the law. . . . The jahiliyya society is every other society except the Muslim one. . . . It is every society that does not owe ultimate allegiance and obedience to God It includes all the existing societies. . . communist Animist Jewish and Christian societies.(17)

Al-Turabi adopts both pillars of the Qutb ideology. He calls for the domination of activism over theoretical work. He even maintains that Islam has been corrupted by piecemeal handling and demands a comprehensive look that would rid itself of a Shari'a heritage that has accumulated since the Prophet's death. To him, the piecemeal approach to Islam has disguised its essence.(18) He also underscores the ideas of Qutb regarding the importance of the early Islamic scholar, al-Ghazali, who described other Islamic scholars as "temporal scholars who forgot the total intentions and targets of the religion."(19) Al-Turabi unequivocally says that:

Authentic Islamic thinking is realistic. The Qur'an was neither revealed in an organized manner nor all at once. It was revealed in response to definite incidents. . . . Incidents occurred and people took different attitudes toward them and then waited for the word of God to rule on their differences. . . . The prophet rarely preached to people theoretically about the teachings of Islam. But he taught them according to individual occurrences and events. . . . Therefore we will not be applying Islam unless we take the objective realities back to Islam. . . . (20)

Al-Turabi believes that this pragmatism has saved his movement from becoming a theoretical one because it preferred to take a practical avenue and chose objectives that could be actualized, thus avoiding the fate of some theoretical and intellectual movements. He mentions that when his movement was denied political freedom in the Sudan in the 1970s, it entrusted some members with the task of studying religious books and acquiring in-depth knowledge about religion.(21) This meant that although the movement claimed to be Islam's true representative, only a few of its members needed to master the intricacies of the religion's canons. The bulk of the membership was assigned the paramount duty of achieving power and creating the material conditions in which religion could be applied experimentally. In other words, achieving power comes first and in-depth knowledge and application of Islam come next. Perhaps this explains why the leaders of the Algerian FIS avoid talking about the policies of their anticipated government! With the Sudan, does this explain why the NIF decided to take over power through a military coup d'etat instead of other peaceful means (since it was the third largest parliamentary bloc in the elections of 1986)?

According to al-Turabi's views, the modern Islamic activist is different in his style of living, dressing, behavior, and speaking from a traditional Muslim. Such an activist is not necessarily knowledgeable of religion even in matters relating to the Islamic school of thought dominant in his country.(22) Al-Turabi openly rejects human rights and considers them a product of positivist and materialist Western jurisprudence. His imagined Islamic society is one in which ". . . all affairs are set straight, the state and society are based on liberation from all positivist and materialist chains, and absolute loyalty is to God. In such a society no contradictions of invoking the notions of rights, freedom, or limits of state authority could arise."(23) This utopian society would have been a mere philosophical fantasy had it not been for the fact it is considered existent from that moment when the membership of the exclusivity organization attains three persons. Accordingly, a member of such an organization obeys only its laws and does not only disobey those of the state but has a divine duty to fight against them.

This idea of jihad is central to all existing exclusivity movements in the Arab World, the FIS included. Since the 1920s when the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was first established, clandestine militia have became an integral part of each of these movements. Today, the existence of a militia is a determinant of whether the organization in question is an exclusivity organization or not.

In the Algerian context, this issue of human rights is clearer. The cancellation of the elections gave the FIS the chance to display the military force it had created over the years. Strengthened by the fact that it was on the brink of assuming power, FIS leaders wasted no time to show that they were the legitimate government and started to behave like one. An FIS spokesperson described the assassination of a psychiatry professor as "a sentence and not a crime." He added that it was a sentence "carried out by the mujahidin."(24) Rabih Kebir, the leading figure of the FIS in exile elaborated on how its parallel state works. He said:

All the jihad groups that exist in the country have committees composed of Islamic legal scholars and people who are also politically knowledgeable. Before a decision is carried out, they present their opinions. I'm not referring to clashes where the gendarmes confront the mujahidin. I am talking about the liquidation of respectable personalities. It's done as follows: a report is presented about whether such a person is in fact involved in torture or other offenses. . . . A person suspected of collaboration is warned personally that if he does not heed the warning, and preponderance of the evidence against him is such, then a decision is made by these committees, based on Islamic legal safeguards, that this person may be liquidated, as long as the evidence is satisfactory. . . . We can say that these [procedures] are really akin to courts.(25)

Although these words speak for themselves, it is important to note two points: First, the suspected persons targeted for liquidation are not necessarily supporters of the Algerian military government. Many of those liquidated by FIS were members of secular opposition groups such as communists, secular academics, trade unionists, and artists. Second, FIS procedures described above contravene the basic human rights standards of a fair trial. Accused or suspected persons facing capital punishment are not allowed to appear before the tribunal before which they were being charged. They cannot confront adverse witnesses and do not have a right to legal representation or appeal. If the FIS considers this system to be just and Islamic, then it is clear that this system contradicts international due process standards.

Like its Sudanese counterpart, the FIS parallels itself with society and considers opposition to it opposition to the whole society necessitating retaliation and liquidation. In all the statements of its leaders inside the country and in exile, the FIS refers to acts committed by its members and militia as acts by the "people of Algeria."(26) Although the carrying of arms against a dictatorial regime might be justifiable, the FIS has never said that it advocates a pluralist democracy. This is a very central issue and the concerns of other parties, which oppose the FIS agenda, are justified. If a ruling or potentially ruling organization advocates the wholesale application of Islamic laws and does not recognize freedom of association as a fundamental right, its critics have every reason to worry. Ironically, FIS leaders who milk the sympathy of Western human rights organizations as victims of abhorrent human right abuses, find no contradiction in defending the dismal record of the NIF regime that overthrew a democratically elected government. They contend that the NIF came to power to salvage Sudan from "partisan chaos."(27) Little distinguishes the FIS from the NIF and its practices. Seen in light of their leaders' statements and their practices, both organizations are faithful to Qutb's teachings. The FIS perceives an Islamic state and an Islamic society in which anything that is not Islamic, according to its perception, must go. Perhaps, the only difference between the two movements could be that one of them is abusing human rights as a ruler and the other is abusing them as an opposition group and promises more abuses if it ascends power. Of course, this has nothing to do with whether or not the current regime in Algeria is dictatorial and repressive.


Since the NIF assumed power on 30 June 1989, human rights violations have become tragically systematic. Knowledge is widespread that the NIF government is among the world's worst human rights violators. It would be pointless to repeat the thorough coverage by the international human rights community of these violations. However, an effort should be directed toward an explanation of the reasons why these violations originally occurred, and why they have taken particular forms.

These violations could be broadly classified into two categories. The first comprises violations that occurred during the power takeover. Since the military was acting as an agent for a political movement that did not publicly admit its involvement, violations were not confined to those traditionally associated with military takeovers. The party became an undeclared center of power with unseen arms everywhere starkly reminiscent of Kafka's novel, The Trial. Two sources of human rights violation emerged with the public one showing more compassion but less power than the clandestine. The second category of violations includes those caused by the movement's subsequent efforts to implement its strategic agenda.


Transformation Of The Movement Into A Government

Al-Turabi addressed the problems of the transformation of a movement into a "state" in an interview with an Islamist periodical. He said that the question posed an issue that needed recurring Ijtihad (diligence and interpretation) and that similar experiences of Third World countries should be drawn from. However, he warned that unlike other organizations, which have dissolved themselves after government takeovers, the Islamic movement should not dissolve itself because it represents Islam in all its forms and Islam cannot be reduced to a state only. He added that the absolute state that dominates the lives of people is contrary to Islam because it is necessarily incapable of executing all the orders of the religion.(28) He decisively disappoints those who might think that he was responding to a theoretical question. The example he gave to illustrate his point was that of today's Sudan. Further, he said that his movement has always been trying to adapt itself ahead of time to the needs of its perceived Islamic government. He added that:

The movement became a model of the whole society. . . . It transformed and became the society itself. . . . Its organs have become the organs of the society and its role in the state should be that of choosing the rulers and of advising and controlling them. It carries out those functions which rulers cannot handle. . . . (29)

Non-members should not be allowed to share public responsibilities with the members of the movement. Public offices are open to members of the movement only. These he calls "satanic gates" and warns against the enticements they pose to members, especially in a transitional period.(30) However, the limited presence of non-members in the government could be tactically tolerated. This, he thinks, would reduce the chances of machinations by foes and would also allow the movement's leaders to steer the society/movement in those particularly turbulent times. For these reasons, it would not be possible to fulfill the aspiration of some who would like to see the ruler and the religious leader in one person.(31) In other words, al-Turabi urges his followers to appreciate his temporary inability to assume both offices.

Since it came to power, the NIF regime has convened several conferences such as a "National Dialogue Conference," a "Trade Unions' Dialogue Conference," and a "Law and Justice Dialogue Conference." These were seen by observers as empty dialogues, since most of those chosen to participate in them were members of the movement. The purpose of the conferences was to legitimize government adoption of the movement's agenda. Similarly, an assembly dominated by NIF members was appointed in 1992 to replace the ad hoc conferences used earlier. Thus the movement is becoming both the society and the government. Therefore, no right of political participation or any other right outside this framework is envisaged or allowed.

Intimidation Of An Unruly Populace And Its Organizations

Totalitarian regimes have always had trouble controlling the people of the Sudan. During the past thirty years, they have toppled two military dictatorships through civil disobedience. Their ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity probably explains this constant striving for a pluralist democracy. However, since the NIF recognizes no diversity or at least does not consider it a positive attribute, it is pursuing the establishment of a "harmonious" monist society instead. Intimidation has become its tool for achieving this goal. The NIF is also seeking to change the habits and psychology of the Sudanese people. Its government has taken many unprecedented measures that are alien to the political and societal norms of the Sudanese. These include massive use of torture, brutal reactions against strikes, humiliation of religious leaders, notables and teachers, execution for minor offenses, public crucifixion of convicts, public flogging of elders, women, and minors, and confiscation of the properties of opposition leaders (while al-Turabi opposed confiscations in the 1970s as contrary to Islam). Civil society and welfare organizations were initially banned and unions dissolved. Some of them have been replaced and are headed by government-appointed NIF members.

Preemptive Measures Against Potential Sources Of Threat, The Armed Forces And The Trade Union Movement.

Two institutions have traditionally influenced any post-independence political change in Sudan, the trade unions and the armed forces. No government can remain firmly in power without the support of either or both. The movement was well aware of this when it executed its coup. It had its long-term plans for both institutions. However, as an interim measure, it moved very quickly to preempt any counteraction from their side.(32)

In the armed forces, and pending the accomplishment of the strategic agenda of the movement below, the NIF government immediately sacked many high-ranking officers and followed this with successive purges among various ranks until more than half the officers' corps had been expelled. To intimidate the rest, harsh punishments were inflicted on those accused of plotting to overthrow the regime.(33) In one such instance in April 1992, twenty-eight officers were executed and buried in one ditch after a summary trial that lasted less than two hours. In two subsequent attempts, punishments ranging from life imprisonment to ten years were imposed after similar summary trials. Less dangerous elements are sent to fight in the South, thereby keeping them away from the centers of effective political activity.(34) Military rank has been deliberately ignored, and junior officers belonging to the movement have been given power over senior officers who are not members. This latter group is constantly kept under check and its members cannot, unlike movement members, move from one place to another during curfew hours except with a permit. Similar measures are also being applied to other regular forces such as the police and the prison guards.(35) The trade unions have been subjected to a policy of gradual liquidation that is being implemented in several phases. Immediately after the coup, the NIF government started a campaign of massive arrests and torture of trade union leaders and activists. It dissolved all the trade unions, and fired trade union leaders and activists from the public and the private sectors. After the doctors' strike of November 1989, these measures were accelerated and were carried out with exceptional determination.(36)

In the second phase, some professors and trade unionists belonging to the movement arranged the so-called "Trade Union Dialogue Conference".(37) All the papers they presented "coincidentally" agreed on all principal points. These points can be summarized as follows: (i) that the Sudanese trade union movement is an offshoot of colonialism; (ii) it needs to be Islamized; (iii) its involvement in politics, which is sanctioned by its achievement of two political strikes that toppled both Abboud and Nemeiri, should be abandoned; (iv) there should be no denominational system of union organization. The old system allowing for separate unions for workers, professionals, and employees, even when they worked for the same employer, should be abolished. All those who work in the same establishment should share the same union whatever their titles or types of work; (v) there is no such a thing in Islam as a strike, and even if it is allowed, those who work in "vital" areas should not be granted this right. Strikes should generally be subjected to the provisions of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Article (73) of the Penal Code provides that:

Anyone entrusted with the power to do any work relating to public health, public safety, or any service of a public nature and stops doing that work in a manner likely to endanger the people, or to cause any disadvantage, detriment or predicament to the public, shall be subject to three years imprisonment.

The conference unanimously adopted the above points and recommended their immediate implementation. Accordingly, a Trade Union Act enshrining these points was promulgated in 1992. The Act deprived some sectors from the right of organizing or joining trade unions, including two groups denied by previous laws, members of the armed forces and judges. Newly denied groups included diplomats, administrative officers (local government administrators), custom officers, and the legal advisors in the Ministry of Justice.(38) The law assigned specific duties to the trade unions and stated them as:

. . . work[ing] toward the country's economic and social stabilization, cooperation with the authorities in the preservation of national unity, economic salvation, maintenance of services, protection of the nation's independence and security, support of its civilizational orientation and help in the provision of justice to individual members of society. . . . (39)

In the past, each group (e.g. workers, physicians, and government employees) was allowed to form its own general union. According to the NIF's 1991 law, the most basic structure of a union, those working in the same factory or government office, all the people without regard to their titles or type of work formed one basic unit. All basic unions were to form one general union.(40) Trade unions were obligated to give the General Registrar of Trade Unions any information he might require about their activities.(41) The Minister of Labor may order the lumping of private sector and public sector employees into one union.(42) The minimum number for the formation of the most basic unit of a union was increased from 30 persons (in the 1987 Act) to 50. Therefore, the law deprived more groups from the right to organize.(43) Practically speaking, the regime ended the right to organize and stifled Sudan's once vivid and defiant trade union movement. These measures contravene some fundamental International Labor Office agreements, such as agreements No. 87 and No. 98 to which Sudan is a party.

Monopoly Of Wealth And Economic Activity

A major area in which the movement has proven its failure, lack of clemency, and greed is in the area of economic policy. Even before the coup, it had enjoyed significant control over some important aspects of the Sudanese economy, especially in the banking sector. In the aftermath of the coup, its policy has not been systematic except in its general attempt to control the remaining sectors of the economy. Three techniques were applied to tighten the grip of the movement over those economic activities. The first was to intimidate rival players in the marketplace and give leverage to the movement's members. In recent years, there has been a veritable explosion in the number and activity of hard currency dealers. After the coup, dealing in hard currency was made an offense punishable with death. At least four persons were executed for possession of hard currency. Six months later possession and dealing in hard currency were allowed.(44) This seemingly haphazard policy was, however, intentional and well planned. It aimed at giving the movement's currency dealers a decisive competitive edge over other competitors. Through loans from the so-called Islamic banks, the movement's currency dealers succeeded in drying up the market of hard currencies. In this way the movement attempted to achieve two goals simultaneously: benefit its members and facilitate the regulation of hard currency that was also badly needed to meet the regime's growing security and military needs.(45) Selling out lucrative public sector enterprises and units to members of the movement is another strategy of controlling the economy. In the past five years, many establishments have been sold either to individual members of the movement or to partnerships formed between members and foreigners.


Two of the processes unleashed to effect forced harmonization of society along the ideological mold of the movement proved to be exceptionally disastrous in terms of human rights. These were the processes of Islamization and Arabicization (not Arabization discussed later, because Arabization refers to change of ethnic makeup while Arabicization simply refers to the imposition of the Arabic language.)

Giving A Religious Dimension To The Civil War

Because the movement divides the world into two halves, an Islamic and a non-Islamic, it characterizes Sudan's 13-year-old civil war as an international conspiracy engineered by enemies of Islam and their intelligence and ideological forces.(46) The rebel movement is therefore seen as an agent of foreign forces and its members are referred to in the government-controlled media as khawarij, an Islamic term meaning" outlaws." In contrast to this, government forces and militiamen are called mujahidin. A prominent member of the movement describes the rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA), as deriving its support from the left and the Church and that its purpose is to undermine the Islamic and Arab identity of Sudan.(47) Another member maintains that the 1989 peace agreement between the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the leader of the SPLM/SPLA, which was preempted by the coup, was masterminded by some unnamed regional and international forces and that its aim was to consolidate secular power in Sudan.(48)

The civil war is therefore stripped of all justification and reduced to a simple lust for the destruction of Islam by multifarious forces. The dichotomous language of Islamic vs. non-Islamic serves the tactics of the movement very well. It provides a pretext for imposing harsh economic measures and for justifying them as well. The religious overtones are deliberately being used to appeal to the youth to join the army and the militia to fight against the enemies of God. Nothing serves the regime better than the continuation of the civil war. It provides a scapegoat and an inflammatory rallying point. Therefore, it is not surprising that NIF and its resulting regime have adamantly opposed all peace initiatives.(49) Muslims in the rebel-held areas are not considered Muslims and their mosques have been demolished by government forces. The NIF regime issued a fatwa (a religious verdict) to the effect that Muslims who fight with the rebels or those who stay in rebel-held areas are considered kaffirs (nonbelievers) and should be considered enemies of Islam.

Ethnic Cleansing In Dar Fur And The Nuba Mountains

The NIF equates Islam with Arabism. Among the practical implications of this attitude is that groups of non-Arab descent are treated as an inferior category of persons. Consequently, the NIF government is pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing in some areas, especially in the Nuba Mountains and Dar Fur region. These areas are very fertile agricultural lands and are inhabited by predominantly non-Arab tribes. In the Nuba mountains, most of the population is either Christian or animist.(50) The movement and its government are pursuing the old policy of arming friendly Arab tribes to attack the non-Arab tribes seen as potential supporters of the SPLM/SPLA.(51) Another objective of the government is to displace these non-Arab tribes from their lands to provide settlement locations for the mostly nomadic Arab tribes.(52) In the South, the policy of ethnic cleansing takes many forms, one of which is killing prisoners of war (POW). Since the civil war broke in the South in 1983, not one POW has been taken by government forces.

Government troops often retaliate harshly for the death of any member of their ranks and their retaliation is usually directed against civilians.(53) On many occasions the government has carried out massive aerial bombardments of civilian concentrations in the South.(54) Another version of racial discrimination is the deprivation of food and denial of the existence of famine. This takes the form of trading food for armaments with the outside world even when it is badly needed in the war affected areas of the South and the famine-hit areas of the West.(55) Since these areas are mostly inhabited by non-Arabs, the discriminatory intent is not difficult to imply.

In the Dar Fur region, the government has vigorously pursued the NIF policy of supporting Arab tribes to fight against non-Arab tribes, especially the Zaghawa and the Fur. A former governor of Dar Fur mentioned that hundreds of Zaghawa and Fur were killed, their villages destroyed and their property looted.(56) Ethnic cleansing as a policy is, however, more rampant in the Nuba mountains.(57) As the army searches for suspected SPLA fighters and sympathizers, educated Nuba are kidnapped and either killed or "disappear." According to human rights organizations, thousands of Nuba have been affected by either one or the other of these measures.(48) Entire villages and communities have been razed and the region has remained sealed since 1990.

Harassing The Displaced And Famine-Affected And The Reemergence Of Slavery

The NIF government's ruthlessness can be further illustrated by the treatment it accords to the displaced and squatter communities around Khartoum. These are mainly Southerners and Westerners forced by the civil war to flee their lands and seek refuge in the capital. During the last five years, hundreds of thousands of these displaced persons have been evicted by force from their makeshift houses and relocated in the desert. The armed forces have bulldozed their homes, clinics, schools, mosques, and churches. In the few instances when they resisted, the armed forces were instructed to disperse them by force. Orders given to these forces have always been clear: shoot to kill.(59) The government relocated some of the displaced people in designated sites known as "peace villages." These are huge camps that lack the most basic human needs. International relief organizations are not allowed to extend humanitarian assistance to the dwellers of these camps.(60) Since 1992, the ILO and other organizations have systematically reported the reemergence of slavery in the Sudan. In a report submitted to the General Assembly, the UN Secretary General reiterated the same accusation.(61) Although the government strongly dismisses these reports, slavery is being practiced in the South and Southwestern parts of the country.(62)

Arabicization And Islamization Of Education And Knowledge

NIF leaders believe that national unity in the Sudan will come about by the Arabicization of education in the South, imposition of Islam as the country's official religion, and adoption of Islamic laws.(63) The movement is presently applying a wholesale policy of Arabicization. University curricula previously taught in English are now undergoing vigorous Arabicization. University professors are given intensive courses in the Arabic language in order to use it as a medium of instruction.(64) In the South, where English used to be the medium of instruction, elementary and secondary students and their teachers are being sent on open-ended "vacations" to learn Arabic and become able to use it as a medium of instruction.(65) Even the University of Juba, which has mostly Southerners, has been Arabicized.(66) Except for one girls school, all private schools were forced to Arabicize their curricula. Parents of the students of the school that was excepted have been asked to sign an agreement that their children would not apply to any of the national universities.(67)

Islam has become a compulsory subject for students from elementary school through the university level.(68) Dozens of professors suspected of being secularists have been sacked and some of them have been subjected to torture. A tortured professor was told that the government was unhappy with his teaching the theory of evolution.(69) Two centers for the "Islamization of knowledge" were established at the universities of Khartoum and Gezira to see that the curricula of higher education institutions are purified from things contradictory to Islam, and to inject a spirit of Islam in "knowledge".(70) Books suspected of being anti-Islamic were removed from the library of the University of Khartoum and reportedly destroyed.(71) Private schools and universities (except the American School) have been nationalized. Other institutions considered unimportant or non-Islamic, such as the High Institute of Drama and Music, although not officially dismissed, have been denied permanent premises.(72)

Police have intervened several times to disperse student demonstrators and sit-ins at the universities of Khartoum and Gezira. Security forces killed two students and injured dozens in these periodic riots.(73) A third student was knifed to death by a fellow student belonging to the NIF. Khartoum University students who organized a boycott of exams through their union were forced to take those exams off campus in a police barracks and at gunpoint.(74) Dozens of student leaders have been dismissed from various universities in the past six years. Some were dismissed in their final years.(75)

Political hacks from outside academia have been appointed to fill the gap created by the massive faculty purges and to meet the needs of the newly-created eight "universities."(76) These institutions are misnomers because each of them has fewer facilities than those enjoyed by the country's top pre-NIF-coup high schools. Since independence the Sudan has had only four universities. Despite the sharp economic decline since the coup, the massive exodus of academics, and the country's total international isolation, the NIF government tripled the number!(77) This policy is directed toward the destruction of the secular traditions of the existing institutions. It also aims at the creation, in a short time, of a new generation of educated Sudanese who are brought up in harmony with the NIF's educational philosophy and owe their allegiance to it.(78)

Denial Of Freedom Of Religion

The NIF government is exceptionally intolerant of other religions. For example, in the last three years, at least 30 Christian churches built by different denominations to serve the displaced people around Khartoum have been closed.(79) In a letter addressed to the United Nations' Secretary General, the Sudanese Catholic Bishops contended that job applicants are required to produce legal proof that they are Muslims.(80) Africa Watch contends that the execution of the Coptic pilot Geigorgis Yustus was intended to intimidate the Coptic community of Northern Sudan that numbers between 150,000-200,000 persons.(81) According to Africa Watch, Copts are not exempt from military training in the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), the former NIF clandestine militia now under official government sponsorship.(82) This is contradictory to a basic tenet of Islam that does not require Dhimmis (Christians and Jews) to serve in the army of an Islamic state but requires them to pay a certain tax in return for state protection. It also contradicts the stated purposes of the PDF that is portrayed as the "Army of God" and is designated to fight His enemies, the rebels of the SPLA. Since the SPLA has many Christians (if not most of its membership), the move boils down to making Christians fight Islam's holy war against their fellow Christians.

While in the PDF camps, some Copts reported that they were "asked" to convert to Islam and denied food during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.(83) The government adopted a policy of granting amnesty to non-Muslim prisoners if they agreed to convert to Islam.(84) Muslim prisoners are granted amnesty if they agree to join the army and fight against God's enemies in the South.


Not only does the Sudanese Islamic regime violate human rights systematically, but it destroys the mechanisms and organizations charged with the duty of protecting and promoting those rights. The following examples are illustrative:

Dismantling The Independent Judiciary

Immediately after it assumed power, and in contravention of the Judiciary Act of 1985, which it did not abrogate or amend, the NIF government appointed a new Chief Justice from outside the ranks of the judiciary, sacked two-thirds of the judges who were in office at the time (including more than half of the High Court Justices) and established many special courts.(85) Political appointees from among the members of the movement were recruited to fill the vacancies created by massive purges. Some newly established courts were first named Security of the Revolution Courts and were subsequently renamed Emergency Courts. They consisted of two to three army officers each and were empowered to try all types of cases, including those involving capital punishment.

At first these courts did not allow lawyers to appear before them. However, they were allowed to appear later but only as "friends" of accused persons and without a right to address the court directly.(86) Public Order Courts, staffed by junior army officers, also were created to deal with petty cases, but they have often exceeded their powers and jurisdiction with the tacit approval of the Chief Justice.(87) The parallel judicial institutions created by the NIF now handle more than 95% of the caseload of the Sudan, and are under the absolute control of the executive branch.(88) Judges have to do military training in PDF camps and a certificate of completion of that training is also a requirement in any application for a judicial post or for receiving a promotion.(89)

Marginalization And Control Of Lawyers By The State

The assault on the legal profession and its independence came immediately after the coup. Contrary to the provisions of the Advocacy Act of 1983, the Sudan Bar Association (SBA) was dissolved and a Steering Committee consisting of NIF members was appointed to run it. The SBA's premises were confiscated and made the headquarters of the PDF.(90) Six of the ten SBA council members were preventatively detained with many other lawyers, and some were tortured.(91) Before the Sudan Human Rights Organization was created in 1986, the SBA had been the sole human rights defender in the country and played a major role in the politico-legal history of the Sudan.(92)

The NIF government's policy methodically undermines the role of lawyers in public life and tries to eliminate or at least control their association. The 1983 Advocacy Act provided for an independent bar association, and was exempted from the applicability of trade union law. This Policy has been reversed and the SBA is now placed under the authority of the government's Registrar of Trade Unions. The amendment was made retroactively and was not published in the official gazette or any other publication. On national television the Registrar of Unions ordered the elections of the lawyers union (according to the amendment) be held within three days. Of the seven thousand lawyers who comprised the membership of the association, only 325 attended the election meeting. The "elections" were won by NIF members because no one else contested them.(93) When former council members brought a law suit before the High Court challenging the amendment and the elections, a High Court panel presided over by the NIF-appointed Chief Justice dismissed the suit on the grounds that the government had the power to issue laws retroactively and make them valid without publication.(94) Leaders of the NIF movement have frequently mentioned that Islam does not recognize such a thing as a legal profession. In 1993 the Governor of Dar Fur, a well known NIF member, declared in a public speech that his government has eradicated tribalism in the Sudan except for one remaining tribe yet to be eradicated: lawyers.(95)

Ban On The Independent Human Rights Organization

After its assumption of power, the NIF government imposed a ban on the Sudan Human Rights Organization (SHRO) and seized its property. It created its own "human rights organization" and gave it the same name in order to confuse people. Leaders and members of the original SHRO faced various forms of harassment and the houses and assets of its president were confiscated. The SHRO has re-emerged in exile in 1990.

Promulgation Of Laws Contravening International Standards Of Human Rights

A draconian penal code, based on a bill proposed by al-Turabi in 1988 but rejected by an elected parliament, was adopted in 1991 through a military decree. This code provides for punishments such as retribution (qisas), stoning, flogging, crucifixion, amputation, hanging, confiscation of property, closure of premises, banishment, fine, blood money and imprisonment. Out of ninety-four different offenses identified by the code, thirty-one are political offenses.

Article 64 of the 1991 code makes the dissemination of hatred or humiliation or enmity between "social sectors" on the bases of differences relating to ethnic origin, color or tongue, an offense punishable by three years imprisonment. The Article does not refer to hatred, enmity, or humiliation based on religious differences. Any act that partially or completely stops transportation, whether by sea, land or air, is punishable by three years' imprisonment.(96) Apostasy is an offense punishable by death. The relevant Article provides that:

1. Any Muslim who advocates abandonment of Islam or publicly announces his abandonment thereof by a statement or definitive conduct, shall be considered as having committed the offense of apostasy. 2. Any person who has committed the offense of apostasy shall be given a respite, the duration of which to be decided by the court. If that person, though not newly converted to Islam, insists on apostasy after the expiration of the duration of the respite, he shall be punished by death. 3. If that person withdraws his apostasy before execution then the execution shall be suspended.(97)

Adultery is punishable by death if the culprit was married at the time the offense was committed. The death penalty for adultery must be carried out by stoning. If the offender is unmarried, the penalty is 100 lashes, and the court has a right to inflict an additional punishment of banishment for one year. If the offense took place in Southern Sudan, the penalty is imprisonment for one year or fine or both if the offender was unmarried. If the offender was married, the penalty is three years imprisonment or fine or both. There is no reference in the latter scenario to the adulterer's religion. In other words, although adultery is a Hudud offense, a Muslim who commits it in Southern Sudan is only subject to imprisonment or fine. Conversely, if a non-Muslim commits adultery in the North, he faces the punishment of stoning or 100 lashes and probably banishment, depending on his marital status. Sodomy is punishable by flogging and five-years imprisonment.(98) Theft is punishable by the amputation of the palm of the right hand. In a Criminal Circular issued by the Chief Justice in 1991, the value of the stolen property triggering the infliction of the punishment of amputation was specified to be 2,600 Sudanese pounds (the equivalent of $5).(99) A subsequent circular adjusted the amount to 30,000 pounds (the equivalent of $50.)(100) If theft was accompanied with violence, then the penalty must be crucifixion.(101)

A Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) enacted in the same year incorporates articles allowing for preventive detention, violation of standards of a fair trail, and imposes Arabic as the language of judicial proceedings in the entire country. By this latter stipulation, the CCP abolished the special situation given to the courts in Southern Sudan to have their proceedings in English.(102) Furthermore, the CCP has concentrated vast powers, previously allocated to courts, in the hands of the Public Prosecution. These include powers of supervision over the police,(103) issuance of arrest and search warrants, bailment orders, and the inspection of prisons.(104) The Chief Justice has the power to transfer any case from one court to another.(105) An action taken by a court or by a member of the Public Prosecution cannot be challenged on the ground of its violation of procedural laws or because it should have been undertaken by another court or a different office of the Public Prosecution.(106) This means that either institution can handle cases outside its jurisdiction.

Criminal responsibility commences at the moment of attainment of puberty instead of the age of 18, as was the case in preceding codes of criminal procedure. Therefore, children are subjected to all the punishments provided for in the penal code if they have attained puberty.(107) Puberty is not medically defined. The court has the power to decide whether a certain accused person has or has not attained it based on his or her appearance. Six years after the coup the government still relies on the First and Second Constitutional Decrees of 1989 for its power base and the country remains under public emergency laws.


The Popular Defense Forces (PDF)

The PDF is the institution built by the NIF government that has had greatest impact on human rights developments in the country. Recruitment for this militia became mandatory for all government employees and high school graduates without exception. It also accepts "volunteers" who are usually NIF members or supporters.(108) It was given wide powers and is led by a senior officer from the armed forces appointed by the President of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). Its forces, whose role is continuously glorified by the media with members portrayed as the "soldiers of God," partake in the civil war alongside the armed forces. Daily, the regime shows more reliance on this militia while it openly neglects the armed forces. Experts from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are imported to help in its organization.(109) The establishment of this militia has led to the militarization of life in the Sudan. This development raises possibility of the "Lebanonization" of the country should the circumstances change and the exclusivity movement be ousted.

A certificate proving completion of training in a PDF camp is a requirement for enrollment in any Sudanese university, and a youth may not leave the country unless he provides this certificate at the port of his departure.(110) Al-Turabi confessed that the formation of this militia was proposed by his movement. He considers its formation consonant with Islamic teachings that call on all Muslims to become soldiers of God ready to do Jihad and he does not see the military as a profession but a duty of every individual Muslim. If the need for Jihad arises, he said, then all Muslims must advance and submit to it without exception. Further, he added that these were longings in the past. Now is the time for their realization with the PDF doors open to every citizen, especially the educated elite. He maintains that:

To pass the gates of knowledge and public life, one has to do the military training first, be subjected to the shock of adapting himself to its hardships, and qualify as a soldier who does not behold any distinctions between himself and the other soldier who continues in that capacity for a career. . . . This is the greatest of schemes directed toward the unification and strengthening of the Sudanese society.(111)

A close aide of al-Turabi's publicly declared that the PDF was an alternative to the armed forces because the latter were created by colonial rule to deprive society of its power and vest it in the hands of an institution. According to this aide, the strategic aim of the movement is to vest the whole society with military power as a prerequisite for the abolition of the armed forces the presence of which poses a constant threat to political stability.(112)

Security Of The State As An Overriding Priority

In 1989, the National Security Act became law. However, it could not be found in the law books of Sudan. Lawyers knew of its existence only when it was replaced by a new law in 1990.(113) Before the new law came into existence, no one knew the number of security organizations operating in the country. Even today no number can be given with a great certainty. According to this Act, any member of the Security Apparatus can detain a person for 24 hours, enter any place for search or surveillance, and exercise any other powers "necessary for the realization of the objectives of the Apparatus."(114) The Act provides blanket immunity for those who are members of and collaborate with the Security Apparatus.(115) This law was amended in 1991.(116) The amendment empowered members of the security apparatus to detain or confine any person for 72 hours (extendible to one month). The National Security Council created by the original Act was empowered by this amendment to order the detention of any person for three months (renewable indefinitely).(117) A person whose release from detention has been ordered by a court or the Public Prosecutor or who has been tried and found innocent, can be detained by the security after one month of his release or acquittal.(118) This amended law was again amended in 1992 and references(119) to the Public Prosecutor and the courts were deleted. Finally, a new National Security Act was introduced in 1994.(120) It preserved all the powers given to the Security Apparatus by its predecessors. What is new is that it divided the Apparatus into two independent but coordinated organs, one for internal security and the other for external security.(121)

The regime's public and clandestine security organs introduced two unprecedented developments in the Sudan: torture and safe houses.(122) A former NIF member who was appointed as a diplomat and served as the regime's spokesperson abroad has recently splintered and declared that the entire NIF and its government have been operating as a vigilant and cohesive security organ.(123) Leaders of the movement see this enormous security structure as a magnificent achievement. They even contend that their regime "ameliorated the security senses" of the Sudanese citizen.(124)

Popular Committees And The One-Party System

The NIF government has made it persistently clear that it will never allow the Sudan to go back to a multi-party system. Various conferences it convened for the determination of the future path of the country arrived at the same conclusion: A multi-party system is an absolute evil. They recommended a system of conferences and "People's Committees" similar to the Libyan style. The application of this system started even before its features were made known to the public. This haste confirms that the blueprint of the political structure was predetermined along the agenda of the movement and the teachings of its ideologue. Members of the movement in residential areas started to form "provisional committees" for the proposed People's Committees. Those Provisional Committees were soon recognized by the regime and given powers over the distribution of food rations.

Gradually, these Committees emerged as instruments of rule and security watchdogs in the residential areas. The regime undertook a massive campaign for the formation of permanent committees to replace the provisional ones but it has failed to get the desperately needed popular support and its campaign has been spontaneously boycotted by the people. As a result, NIF members continue to run these committees. Al-Turabi considered the political structure based on these committees to be a system of consensual submission by people to their leadership (I'timar bi al-Ma'rouf). He anticipated that people would assemble locally and directly to decide matters affecting their lives and would select their representatives in the various structure levels ascending from local to regional and national levels.(125) He described this system as neither military nor one-party system nor multi-party. Whatever name the movement chooses for its proposed political organization, it will not change its nature as a necessarily one-party system destined to deprive the Sudanese of their freedom of association, a fundamental in any pluralistic democracy. NIF attempts to disguise the nature of its political structure as a one-party system are nothing more than putting an old wine in new wineskins.

Building An "Islamic" Patriarchal Society

Since its assumption of power, the NIF government has systematically undermined the status of women in society. With al-Turabi's sanction, the government of the Sudan has imposed a dress code on women, enacted a new personal status law that has thwarted and continues to thwart women's rights, and sacked hundreds of women from their jobs.(126) In January 1990, the figurehead of the military regime declared that an "ideal Sudanese woman takes care of herself and her reputation, cares for her husband and children, does her household duties and is a devout Muslim."(127) Mandatory separate seating in public transpiration was imposed in 1990.(128) Women are not allowed to leave the country without the escort and custody of a chaperone. A strict dress code that obligates every woman to dress in opaque clothes that cover all her body except the face and the palms of hands has also been imposed.(129) Mixing of the two genders in public places and in traditional celebrations such as wedding ceremonies is strictly forbidden.(130) The ratio of women dismissed from their jobs is higher than that of men, and it is generally believed that the government is carrying out a policy of gradual expulsion of women from certain professions.

The 1991 Personal Law of Muslims Act(131) specifies no minimum age for a Muslim woman to qualify for marriage. Puberty is the sole requirement for a woman's eligibility to be married. A woman's intimation of her attainment of puberty must be taken as conclusive evidence of that matter unless her appearance contradicts it.(132) These provisions legitimize the long-standing practice of marriage imposed on minors, thereby thwarting their freedom of choice and affecting their future in an irremediable way. A Muslim male is forbidden from marrying a woman who is not a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew.(133) Competence of a male Muslim to marry depends on the degree of his religiosity.(134) The closest custodian of a bride can demand the repudiation of the marriage contract, if the bride, though sane and mature, married a man who is not competent according to this religiosity parameter. However, if the woman has become pregnant before the purported repudiation, or delivered a child, then the guardian's privilege of repudiation ceases to be valid.(135) A guardian of a Muslim woman must be a Muslim, male, sane, and mature.(136) Girls at kindergarten level are "encouraged" to cover their heads and dress "modestly." Women are prevented from standing with men in the streets, "suspicious places," or in a manner "contrary to Shari'a."(137) They must not ride with men who are not their close relatives or loiter or raise their voices in the streets.(138) Those who do not follow these orders carefully are subjected to public flogging by the Morality Police or the General Discipline Police.(139)


The experiences of the Sudan and Algeria suggest that the contemporary militant Islamic groups of the Arab World, whether we call them fundamentalist or exclusivity groups, may not subscribe to international standards of human rights. Although the study of these two groups is not enough by itself to warrant such a generalization, experience elsewhere shows that none of their counterparts in the Arab World has a different standing vis-a-vis international human rights standards. However, since these groups are mostly victimized, efforts are still needed to defend them as victims. Their ideas about international human rights pose a great challenge to advocates of cultural legitimation and cultural relativism of human rights. Much effort is needed to educate these groups about the necessity of human rights as rights of human beings per se. It is, I must confess, a formidable task.


1. Arsanjani, Mahnoush H: "Using Human Rights Criteria for Appraising Clerical Claims for Political Power", a paper presented at the Yale Schell Center, November 1993. p. 2.

2. This group includes many authors such as Ann Mayer, Suzanne Gee, Tim Niblock, and Donna Arzt.

3. Al-Turabi, Hassan: Islam Democracy, and the West, Middle East Policy, vol. 1, # 3, 1992. See also his, Qadaya al-Hurriyya wa al-Wihda, al-Shura wa al-Dimoqratiyya, al-Din wa al-Fann, First Edition, 1987, al-Dar al-Saudiyya li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzie. Jeddah.

4. Al-Na'im, Abdullahi A. (Trans.): The Second Message of Islam, 1987, Syracuse University Press.

5. Al-Na'im, Abdullahi A.: Toward an Islamic Reformation, 1990, Syracuse University Press.

6. Except for two books about the history of the movement written by Hassan Mekki and another about al-Turabi, all of which were written as academic dissertations, one finds no sources other than the writings of al-Turabi himself.

7. Al-Turabi, Hassan. Al-Haraka al-Islamiyya fi al-Sudan, 1991, Dar al-Ufoq, al-Dar al-Baida, p. 14.

8. Ibid., p. 15.

9. Ibid., p. 16.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid., p. 251.

13. Qutb, Sayyid. Ma'alim fi al-Tariq (No date), Dar al-Shruq, Cairo, p. 17.

14. Ibid., p. 14.

15. Ibid., p. 66.

16. Ibid., p. 151.

17. Ibid., pp.88-92.

18. Al-Turabi, Hassan. Tajdid al-Fikr al-Islami, 2nd Edition, 1987, al-Dar al-Saudiyya li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzie, Jeddah. pp. 13-14.

19. Ibid., p. 18.

20. Ibid., pp. 23-25.

21. Al-Turabi, 1991, op. cit. pp. 219-221.

22. Ibid., p. 153.

23. Al-Turabi, 1987 (Qadaya), op. cit. p. 23.

24. Middle East Watch: Human Rights Abuses in Algeria, No one is Spared, January 1994, p. 54.

25. Ibid., p. 59.

26. Ibid., pp. 54, 55, 56, 57, and 59.

27. Interview with Anwar Haddam in the offices of Human Rights Watch (New York), January 1992.

28. Hiwar Ma'a al-Diktoar Hassan al-Turabi, in Qira'at Siyasiyya (Political Readings), vol. 2, 3, Summer 1412H/1992, pp. 6-7. Hereinafter Qira'at.

29. Ibid., p. 10.

30. Ibid., p. 12.

31. Ibid.

32. For example see, Amnesty International: Sudan, Appeals on Behalf of Imprisoned Trade Unionists, April 1991.

33. The Sudanese Legitimate Command of the Armed Forces: "The Policies of the NIF Government Towards the Armed Forces," a paper presented at a workshop on "Human Rights Situation in the Sudan," organized by Sudan Human Rights Organization (SHRO) and the Fund for Peace (New York), Cairo, November 1992. Hereinafter Cairo Workshop.

34. Ibid., p. 4.

35. Ibid., p. 6.

36. Africa Watch: Political Detainees in the Sudan, Medical Doctors, 12 January 1990, pp. 1-6.

37. The Steering Committee of the Trade Unions' Dialogue Conference: The Final Report and Recommendations, Khartoum, October 1989. pp. 2-9.

38. The Trade Union Act 1992, Article 4.

39. Ibid., Article 5.

40. Ibid., Article 8.

41. Ibid., Article 18.

42. The Regulation of the Trade Union's Structure, 1993, Article 3.

43. Ibid., Article 3 (b).

44. Africa Watch: The Copts: Passive Survivors Under Threat, 10 February 1993 pp. 1-2.

45. Arab Lawyers' Union: al-Mohamoon al-Arab, Issue No. 5, May 1990, pp. 15-17.

46. The Final Report and Recommendations of the National Dialogue Conference (op. cit. p. 15) states that the civil war in the South is an "international problem. . . . Foreign ideologies and foreign intelligence institutions are involved in it. The movement [SPLM/SPLA] plays the role of an agent for those forces and this is a trend that must be encircled and contained."

47. Mekki, Hassan: al-Harakat al-Thawriyya fi Ethiopia wa Mustaqbal al-Qarn al-Ifriqi, in Qira'at, op. cit., p. 62.

48. Haroun, Mohamed Mahgoub: al-Mashrou' al-Islami al-Sudani, in, Qira'at, op. cit., p. 62.

49. Cairo Workshop, op. cit., pp. 10-11.

50. Africa Watch: Sudan: Destroying Ethnic Identity, The Secret War Against the Nuba, 10 December 1991. Also, Africa Watch: Sudan: Eradicating the Nuba, 9 September 1992.

51. Cairo Workshop, op. cit., p. 10.

52. A. Agaw Jok Nhial, Nour Tawir Kafi, and Eltigani Seisi Mohamed: Human Rights Abuses in the Southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Darfur Region, a paper submitted to Cairo Workshop, op. cit., p. 17.

53. Africa Watch: War in Southern Sudan: The Civilian Toll, October 1993, pp. 1-8.

54. Biro, Casper (UN Special Rapporteur on the Sudan): Human Rights Situation in the Sudan, UN Document No. E/CN.4/1995/58. Hereinafter Biro/95.

55. Copson, Raymond W.: Sudan: Foreign Assistance Facts, CRS Issue Brief, 18 February 1992, p. 13.

56. A. Agaw Nhial Jok, Nour Tawir Kafi and Eltigani Seisi Mohamed, Cairo Workshop, op. cit., p. 17.

57. Amnesty International: Sudan: A Continuing Human Rights Crisis, April 1992, p. 12.

58. Africa Watch, 9 September 1992, op. cit. Also, Africa Watch, 10 December 1991, op. cit.

59. Africa Watch: Refugees in Their Own Country, 10 July 1992, p. 11.

60. Ibid.

61. UN Secretary General: Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, 18 November 1993. UN Document No. (A/48/601).

62. The New York Times, 3 April 1993.

63. Haroun, Qira'at, op. cit., pp-75-76.

64. The Fund for Peace. Abuses of Academic Freedom in Sudan, 28 May 1992, p. 3.

65. Ibid., p. 4.

66. Africa Watch: Sudan: Violations of Academic Freedom, 7 November 1992, p. 8.

67. Ibid., pp. 7-9.

68. Fund for Peace, 28 May 1992, op. cit., p. 4.

69. Africa Watch, 7 November 1992, op. cit., pp.5-6.

70. Ibid., p. 5.

71. Interview with Dr. Mahgoub al-Tigani, Boston, November 1992. 72. Africa Watch, 7 November 1992, op. cit., p. 14.

73. Ibid., p. 20.

74. Ibid., pp. 10-11.

75. Fund for Peace, 28 May 1992, op. cit., pp-7-9.

76. Africa Watch, 7 November 1992, op. cit., pp. 4-5.

77. Ibid., p. 8.

78. Fund for Peace, 28 May 1992, op. cit., p. 5.

79. Africa Watch, 10 February 1993, op. cit., p. 5.

80. Ibid.

81. Ibid., pp. 1 and 5.

82. Ibid., pp. 7-8.

83. Ibid., p. 8.

84. Ibid.

85. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights: Sudan Attacks on the Judiciary, March 1991, pp. 2-6.

86. Abdelmoula, Adam: Istiqlal al-Qada wa al-Mohamah fi al-Sudan, in al-Haqq (Arab Lawyers' Union Quarterly) No. 1/1991, pp. 149-168.

87. Ibid.

88. Ibid.

89. Interview with Dr. Amin Mekki Medani, President of Sudan Human Rights Organization, New York, December 1991.

90. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights: The Legal Profession in the Sudan, February 1992, pp. 2-3.

91. Ibid., p. 10.

92. Ibid., pp. 1-2.

93. Ibid.

94. Case No. HC/CS/418/ 1993 (unpublished). An original document obtained from the files of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, dated 3 October 1993.

95. Afaq Jadida (London), Issue No. 2, March 1993. p. 3.

96. Sudan Penal Code 1991, Article 72.

97. Ibid., Article 126.

98. Ibid., Article 148.

99. Al-Manshour al-Jina'i Raqm Wahid Lisanat 1991 (Criminal Justice Circular No. 1/1991). Issued by Jalal Ali Lutfi, CJ. 25 March 1991.

100. Al-Manshour al-Jina'i Raqm Wahid Lisanat 1994 (Criminal Justice Circular No. 1/1994). Issued by Jalal Ali Lutfi, CJ. 18 April 1994.

101. Al-Qanun al-Jina'i al-Sudani Lisanat 1991 (Sudan Penal Code 1991), Article 170 and 175.

102. Qanun al-Ijra'at al-Jinaiyya Lisanat 1991 (Sudan Code of Criminal Procedure 1991). Article 4(j).

103. Ibid., Article 34.

104. Ibid., Articles 18, 19, and 20.

105. Ibid., Article 31(3).

106. Ibid., Article 32.

107. For a general discussion see, Taha Ibrahim: Ta'thir al-Asuliyya 'ala Tasrif al-A'dala fi al-Sudan, a paper presented at Cairo Workshop, op. cit.

108. Qanun Quwat al-Difa' al-Sha'bi Lisanat 1989 (Popular Defense Forces' Act 1989). Articles 8, 10, and 13.

109. Arab Lawyers Union: al-Mohamoon al-Arab, Issue No. 4, January 1990, Cairo, p. 15.

110. Africa Watch, 7 November 1992, op. cit., pp. 4-9.

111. Qira'at, op. cit., pp. 17-18.

112. Ibid., pp. 66-67.

113. Qanun al-Amn al-Watani Lisanat 1990 (National Security Act 1990), issued 2 May 1990.

114. Ibid., Article 12.

115. Ibid., Article 41.

116. Qanun Bita'deel Qanun al-Amn al-Watani Lisanat 1991 (Law Amending the National Security Act 1991). Issued on 20 June 1991. 117. Ibid., Article 40(a).

118. Ibid.

119. Qanun al-Amn al-Watani Lisanat 1992 (National Security Act 1992). Issued on 2 May 1992.

120. Qanun al-Amn al-Watani Lisanat 1994 (National Security Act 1994). Issued on 1 November 1994.

121. Ibid., Article 5.

122. Ibid.

123. Abdel Wahab El-Affendi, interview with al-Khartoum daily newspaper (Egypt), 9 September 1995.

124. Qira'at, op. cit., p. 66.

125. Ibid., p. 32.

126. The Fund for Peace: Abuses Against Women in Sudan, 15 May 1992, pp. 1-2.

127. International League of Human Rights, The Human Rights Situation in the Sudan, February 1991, p. 10.

128. Department of State Country Report, quoted in ibid.., p. 10.

129. Fund for Peace, 15 May 1992, op. cit., p. 8.

130. Ibid., p. 4.

131. Qanun al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya Lisanat 1991 (Personal Law for Muslims Act 1991), Sudan Official Gazette No. 1554, 25 July 1991. 132. Ibid., Article 34.

133. Ibid., Article 19(e).

134. Ibid., Article 21.

135. Ibid., Article 24..

136. Ibid., Article 33.

137. "Idarat Tansiq al-Shurta al-Sha'biyya - Baladiyyat al-Khartoum" (Administration of Popular Police - Khartoum Municipality), letter, dated 5 March 1995. Original document obtained by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

138. Ibid.

139. Ibid.

Adam M. Abdelmoula is a Sudanese human rights lawyer currently living in exile in the United States where he is finishing a doctorate in international law at Georgetown University. He has a law degree from Khartoum University and a master's degree from Harvard.
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Author:Abdelmoula, Adam M.
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Date:Jan 1, 1996
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