Southerners are not against Islam, never will

By Daniel Abu- sherry Daniel (USA)

“Do not confuse your vested interests with ethics. Do not identify the enemies of your privilege with the enemies of humanity” – Max Lerner

July 12, 2010 (SSNA) — The current conflict between the Northern elites, who have monopolized the country for decades, and the Southern Sudanese people, who have been oppressed for generations after another. The major root causes of that conflict can be traced back to the racial intolerance and the Arabs’ treatment of the people of African descendants. So in many respects, Islam may not be the primary cause of the toxic relationship between the two parts of the country. It’s therefore essential that during the referendum process, a concessive analysis must adequately be represented and genuine reasons must be articulated.

Vividly, I depute this allegation that Islam is the problem, and that shouldn’t be the slogan that we use as a propaganda in this crucial time as all Southerners thrive to determine their fate in 2011 referendum. Yes, the " Sharia law" imposed by former dictator, president Jaafer Nimeeri in 1983, after ten years of stability brought on by the Addis Ababa Accord (AAA), contributed in fueling the situation even further.

However, nobody can ever deny the complexity of the society in the whole of Sudan. We are so used to experiencing different beliefs in any one particular family, through inter- marriages between south and north, which resulted in the present semi- homogenous society. And of course, there is a good number of Muslims in the South, but that has never been a problem at all, even though the Northern elites have explored it as a divide- and- rule policy among brothers and communities.

The late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, the founding father of Sudan peoples’ liberation movement/ Sudan peoples’ liberation Army (SPLM/A), defused this mentality and formed one of the most diverse complex movements in Sudan history, not only from the marginalized areas in the country, but also included Arabs and Muslims from all walks of life, proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the Islam was not the major problem in country’s conflict.

Thus, even among Northern Sudanese, there is conflict between sunny, and shia’at Muslims; between Al Ansaar and Al Khatimia; ordinary Muslims and Muslims brothers, just to mention but a few. So the classification of Sudanese problem has more and more to do with the identity crisis, or Arabs verses Africans.

In one of his famous speeches, the late Comrade, Ustaz/ Yousif Kowa Makhi puts it best. He said " Many Sudanese have an inferiority complex, everyone is denying his/her origin; the Nubian denied themselves, because the word Nubian is attached to backwardness; forgetting that even the word " Arabi" means uncivilized person as well," he said.

But make no mistake about it. Indeed, some rulers have used religion as their shield to achieve their personal interests, like the cleric Imam Dr. Hassan Abdullah Al Turabi, the master-mind behind the introduction of the Islamic Sharia laws in the country, and the real champion of the execution of Ustaz Mahamoud Mohamed Taha, the spiritual leader of al Jamhorieen Brotherhood party. (Republican Party), which was calling for a secular society and the separation of the state and religion.

Therefore, let’s concentrate on the marginalization, the underdevelopment of Southern Sudan, infrastructures, and power sharing issues. Marked my word, we may not repatriated back home many Southerners who are currently living in the North, because many of them may want to settle in Northern Sudan or elsewhere in the globe, or the opposite. Therefore let’s build a collateral relationship and launch a friendly and healthy campaign to ensure peaceful separation with our Northern neighbors. The last thing we need is a nasty separation and an ugly divorce. And yes, we may never know the enemy of today maybe the friend of tomorrow. Shalom.

The author is a Sudanese living in Arizona State (USA), and can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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