By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
During the last few years the political components, both traditional and Leftists continued raising their voices calling for something vaguely termed ‘Civil State’ as an alternative to the National Congress Party (NCP) regime that adopts ‘Political Islam’ which stemmed from the ideology of the global Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM). The doctrine of Civil State is a big lie utilised as a camouflage to mislead the Sudanese public; some opponents say. For example, but not limited to them, two of the opponents to the principle of ‘Civil State’ wrote in the Sudanese electronic press, with some skepticism and cynicism about the credibility of those who advocated ‘Civil State’ to rule Sudan after the demise of the regime of the (NCP). Bearing in mind that the (NCP) regime led by the genocidal criminal and the fugitive from the international justice, Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. One of those who wrote critically about the political Islam is the researcher and writer, Dr. Omer El-Guarrai. Dr. El-Guarrai in that respect wrote quoting Rashid Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian Ennahda Party, who seemed to have started retreating from the ideological principals his party adopted over the decade. Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian Renaissance said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde days before the General Congress of his party between 20 and May 22 May 2016 that: (there is no longer justification for political Islam in Tunisia and the revolution of 2011 put an end to all dictatorships, extremist and hardline secularism. Moreover, Rachid Ghannouchi continued saying that we need increasingly to learn co-existence and live with a difference! The principles of Political Islam of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM) which Ghannouchi tried abandoning them. Ghannouchi said, criticizing extremism and the heinous crimes carried out against innocent people along swathes of lands in the Middle East and elsewhere in the name of Islamic Jihad by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Moreover, Ghannouchi concluded by saying that he is a Tunisian first and departing that ideology for good. However, that is it whether it is a political rhetoric or something trustworthy nobody is dead sure.
The other person who started criticising the political opposition factions, both armed and civilian, who have embraced the principle of ‘Civil State’ is the writer and scholar Salah Shuaib. Shuaib blamed all those adopted the so-called ‘Civil State’ including the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Moreover, Salah Shuaib indicated the (JEM) is still spins around the Popular Congress Party (PCP) axis formerly led by the Islamists godfather in Sudan about whom (JEM) issued a condolence statement in its formal Website on the death of Dr. Hassan Abdalla al-Turabi on 5 March 2016. The Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had issued a statement of condolence of the general secretary of the Communist Party of Sudan Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, who died in March 22, 2012. The foregoing incidence cannot be interpreted that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has a Communist tendency. It is noteworthy that within the membership of the movement there exist numbers of members who believe in the principles of communism, socialism and liberalism, and so on. Furthermore, Condolence over the death of someone you know is stipulated in the Sudanese cultural norms. Thus, the condolence over the death of late Dr. Hassan al-Turabi is a natural thing and is one of the duties of Sudanese heritage. Moreover, it is not necessarily be interpreted as an evidence for the link of the Movement (JEM) to the former godfather of the National Islamic Front (NIF).
However, in a nutshell, we must be frank and honest that some of the Darfur rebel movements such as (JEM) which rebelled against the (NCP) regime injustice, walked with stream adopting the ‘Civil State’ as an option to rule Sudan after the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM) regime.
When one delves into the literature on ‘Civil State’ there, are number of books and articles braying in favour of ‘Civil State’ and praising its principle. Nevertheless, unfortunately they are words and resonating terms without detailing the practical steps for the establishment of a modern civil state in the Arab and Muslim countries, and more importantly, without an explanation of how to get out from under the yoke of injustice, oppression and tyranny regime!
To date, there has been no precise definition for the term ‘Civil State’. However, every Sudanese political group trying to suggest that they have the magical stick of the God’s Prophet Moses to resolve the chronic crises of Sudan if they had the opportunity to govern the country stuck in mud of political failings since the exit of the British colonial power sixty four years ago on the first of January 1956.
We need admitting that the background origins of the Sudanese political parties are sectarian.
If persistently keen observer looks at the Sudanese opposition components’ backgrounds, most of them are affiliates of and belonged to the sectarian religious, we find that the National Umma Party (NUP) belongs to the Ansar Sect. Similarly, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) belongs to the Khatmiyya Sect. The other parties that rebelled as ‘Front’ came out of the sectarian religious parties. They renamed themselves as the fashionable term front. Examples include the Broad National Front led by Ali Mahmoud Hassanein. Mr. Hassanein, a former vice president of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and he split from the main party after disagreements with the party leadership. Furthermore, there are many small parties were part of the religious denominations parties. Each of these parties claimed Fostering the so- called “Civil State”. In other words, political Islam remains under the curtain, fearing the wrath of the party membership. The bulk of the religious Sectarian Party affiliates believe that secular system as Atheism, not religious, because of ignorance or naivety! Moreover, fear of parties that their membership would leave the party for good if the leadership adopts any doctrine other than the one claiming hypocritically Islamism. This paradox continued haunting the political class in Sudan for decades and preventing the country’s progress, prosperity and peace.
Further to the above are some of the names of the heads of Sudanese parties had already split from the sectarian parties:
Salah Shuaib said the truth categorically that the ‘Civil State’ is nothing but a vacuous talk shop and that it is inevitable and necessary to resort to the Secular State option! Moreover, Salah Shuaib goes on to say that, the concept of the ‘Civil State’ in the ‘Civilized West’ might carry more meanings contrary to what in the context of the Islamic Civilization. Furthermore, Shuaib indicates that a demodulation to the concept occurred in the last two decades into the Arab political field across Organization from here and there and it then leaked to the ‘recipient Sudan’.
On the other hand, some members in the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) believe the hint Salah Shuaib made is interpreted as there is still continuing link between (JEM) leadership and the (MBM) represented in the (PCP) formerly led by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi and justifying that link to the Movement’s condolence of Turabi in the (JEM) Website. Many of the (JEM) members think that statement as an unfair insult and tallies to what some of the international community components as well as the National Congress Party (NCP) regime elements continued parroting since the outbreak of the Revolution in Darfur in February 2003. The (NCP) regime used propaganda machine for defaming (JEM) which proved its seriousness for removing the decades of injustice imposed on the people of the region of Western Sudan by the successive central governments. Unfortunately, Salah Shuaib, whose ancestors may have descended from Western Sudan if not from Darfur, continues promoting what some Westerners supporting the ruling regime of the (NCP) that has been providing classified intelligence services about its fellow Islamist trerrorists to them. This is despite the fact that (JEM) has started as a National movement for all the Sudanese people regardless of their colour, creed, ethnicity, gender, regional or political affiliation, culture or language for joining it as a member. Thus, the Sudanese (JEM) attracted its membership from all the then six regions of Sudan including people from the Southern Sudan prior to its secession. In this regard, one cannot blame Salah Shuaib as a journalist reporting on a controversial thorny subject of the ‘Civil State’. Salah Shuaib continues to say that the problem in Sudan centres around the leaders do not want to pay the high price of confessing courageously the facts essential and necessary for nation rebuilding and on those who are afraid to utter the need for saying that, Sudan is in need of Secular rule.
Peter Hill in his article entitles “The Civil” and “the Secular” in Contemporary Arab Politics said that the term “Medani”, generally translated as “civil,” has played an important role in Arabic political discourse since the revolutions of the Arab Spring began on 18 December 2010. Arab Spring refers to a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests both non-violent and violent, riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began in Tunisia with the Tunisian Revolution, and spread throughout the countries of the Arab League and its surroundings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring
The term “civil state” (“al-dawla al-madaniyya”) is a unique product of this discourse. Though possibly coined by the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM) in the 1950s, it is only since the revolutions that it has become a central and controversial term in politics
The term is complex, used in varying and indeed contradictory ways. In Egypt, different uses of the term “civil” reveal fault lines that exist in the post-revolutionary period between various political parties, and their conceptions of politics and society.
To track the different meanings of the “civil”, and by extension the “civil state,” is to sketch the landscape of competing visions about Egypt’s future. Different uses of the term reveal widely shared aspirations for a non-military state, but also important differences of opinion over the role of religion in public life. One factor that emerges is the political power of these terms for both secularists and many Islamists, as both attempt to lay claim to the “civil” and “civil state.” Equally significant are the areas in which this crucial debate is silent, most importantly with regard to economic affairs and social justice.
This definition – a democratic and constitutional state that excludes the military – is the least controversial aspect of the “civil state,” and is the one most frequently used by Egypt’s Islamist politicians and religious figures.
According to the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12813859
The downfall of Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali inspired pro-democracy activists across the Arab world. Widespread discontent at economic hardship, decades of autocratic rule and corruption erupted into mass demonstrations in December 2010 after a young, unemployed man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set fire to himself after officials stopped him selling vegetables in Sidi Bouzid. Around 300 people were killed during the subsequent unrest, which forced Ben Ali to resign in January 2011, after 23 years in power, and go into exile in Saudi Arabia. He was later sentenced to life in prison in absentia. In October 2011, Tunisia held its first democratic parliamentary elections. The moderate Islamist Ennahda party won more than 41% of the vote in the constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution. Veteran dissident Moncef Marzouki was then elected president.
In a nutshell, one has to do justice to Salah Shuaib as to the overall contents of his article. Salah Shuaib has written previously articles with similar themes. An example of that sort of articles he wrote an article with a title Intellectual, moral and psychological crisis of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood Movement). His candor in telling the bare facts that other writers fear delving in for the consequences and leaving them go astray remains clear! The current article is commendable for being very frank demonstrating the facts that the Sudanese political class trying cover themselves up behind a transparent curtain, which reveals the hidden things behind it. The politicians tried hiding their true desires behind the ‘Civil State’ trickery. The real intensions of those politicians centre on application of “Political Islam” through the backdoor. They intended to do so in spite of the abject failures and disasters brought to Sudan by the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM) over more than forty odd years. Sudan and its people experienced autocracy, arbitrary laws that allowed lynching, flogging women, crimes of genocide, amputation of hands and lower limbs. The foregoing atrocities occurred during the two military dictatorships regimes backed by the ideological thoughts of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM. The Sudanese people especially in the marginalized regions suffered most during the reign of Jaafer Muhammed Nimeiri, 1969-1985 of so-called May 25 Revolution and the 30th June 1989 –to date military coup d’état of the National Islamic Front (NIF) that split after the so-called Haggle, Arabic “Mufasala” into (NCP)(PCP). Both of the infamous regimes applied selectively the provisions of punitive Sharia Laws that targeted mainly in Sudan the amputation of limbs of the poor, flogging of women in isolation from the tolerance of the Islamic religion. The NIF laws exempted the influential officials in the National Congress Party (NCP) regime who have been implicated in the crimes of corruption and looting public money and transferring it to banks outside Sudan by using Fatwas referred to as (in Arabic ‘Tahalul in English ‘Decomposition’) and becoming “Halal”, emanated from religious Sheikhs belonging to the (NCP) government. The major government corruption in the era of the (NCP) regime represented by the sale of the Sudan House in the neighbourhood of Knights Bridge in London, Sudan Airways airstrip landing at the London Heathrow Airport, sale of the main airline carrier Sudan Air, Sudanese Cruise Lines, Sale of Sudan Railways and the catastrophic sale of the Gezira Irrigated Agricultural Project in the Central Region of Sudan.
There is no such thing as a civil state in the world today and not in the past it was utter vague and incomprehensible even to those who espouse to adopt it. It seems that the main purpose for the adoption of this lie is the fear an assumed of public reaction against any calls alternative to the doctrine of the (MBM) who failed in their experience all over the Islamic World they tried to rule, Sudan is not an exception.
The so-called civil state is an empty slogan of no truth in it. Worse, it presents as empty of content and a kind of hypocrisy because of the fear of some political elites assuming the possibility that people might revolt against the principle of the secular state, which some gullible people think it as a kind of atheism. There is no escape from the secular state to Sudan after the demise of the regime of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement in Khartoum. Sudan has experienced two experiments to apply state of political Islam, both of which failed catastrophically. They included the so-called September Laws in the era of President Muhammed Jaafer Nimeiri that extended for 1969 to 1986. The second and the worst one is the current (NCP) regime of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM). The latter proved beyond doubt as the most destructive, disastrous, and led to fragmentation of the Sudanese nation with the continued civil attrition wars and committing crimes of genocide and all sorts of vices in the name of Islam which disowns of all those heinous crimes.
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is http://thussudan.wordpress.com/