Al-Bashir’s Islam aids the cause of southern secession

Despite his bigoted politics, it appears that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is hoping for–if not actively working towards–the independence of southern Sudan, as evidenced by his Sunday announcement that southern secession would only serve to bolster support for the application of Islamic Law in the north without the usual southern opposition.

We all know which interpretation of Islam al-Bashir seeks to apply, especially following his support for the public flogging of a Sudanese woman for wearing tight pants. The event, broadcast around the world over the Internet, led to widespread antipathy among those who, unfamiliar with Islam, saw the flogging episode as symptomatic of the religion’s teachings.

In what appears to be an attempt to compensate for southern secession, al-Bashir proclaims that Islamic Law will remain the only source of northern Sudan’s national constitution. It seems as though al-Bashir views the separation as a victory for Islam and Muslims rather than as a historical disgrace for a man who, 21 years ago, inherited a unified country.

Al-Bashir has failed to preserve this unity. Furthermore, his policies since assuming power following the 1989 coup–known as "the Salvation Revolution"–have only served to marginalize “the other” and foster divisions within Sudanese society.

Al-Bashir refuses to accept responsibly for the looming separation or for delivering a viable Sudan to his successor–who will undoubtedly attempt to treat its wounds and restore it to life in accordance with a fresh vision.

Al-Bashir celebrates impending southern secession as if it were something prescribed by Islam, and celebrates the flogging of a Sudanese woman while calling on those who opposed the punishment to return to their religion’s teachings.

What image of Islam is he presenting to the world when he looks for interpretations of the faith that allow women to be flogged, while simultaneously ignoring unambiguously Islamic values such as just governance and human rights?

Al-Bashir treats Islamic Law as if it were a whip with which to flog his citizens, or a sword with which to cut off their extremities, all the while failing to observe Islamic values of justice and the right of the citizen to benefit from national resources.

Al-Bashir proudly announced that he would continue to flog women while imposing his version of Islamic Law over the north after the removal of pagans and Christians from the country. He will claim to the world that this is Islam, thereby hurting the image of the religion both domestically and internationally.

In al-Bashir’s view, any loss–even the breakup of the country–is well worth sacrificing for his interpretation of Islamic Law. He doesn’t bother asking himself what he has given his people–other than the whip–or why his interpretations of Islam are so violent. How can he disregard Islamic rulings on just governance based on respect for diversity and the value of human life?

Al-Bashir’s Islam has led to the inevitable secession of the south, yet nevertheless he insists on adopting the exact same approach to ruling the north. One can only ponder what other disappointments are in store for the north in the remaining years of his reign.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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