Rabu, 07 Oktober 2009

Hassan al-Turabi

Hassan al-Turabi

Hassan al-Turabi

Dr. Hassan 'Abd Allah al-Turabi (الدكتور حسن عبد الله الترابي in Arabic), commonly called Hassan al-Turabi (sometimes transliterated Hassan al-Tourabi) (حسن الترابي) (born c.1932), is a religious and Islamist political leader in Sudan, who may have been instrumental in institutionalizing sharia in the northern part of the country. He has been called a "longtime hard-line ideological leader."[1]

Turabi was leader of the National Islamic Front, a political movement with considerable political power in Sudan but little popularity among voters. In 1979 he became Minister of Justice. In June 1989, a coup d'état by allies, the "National Salvation Revolution", brought him and the National Islamic Front to power.

In March 1996 Turabi was elected to a seat in the National Assembly where he served as speaker of the National Assembly "during the 1990s."[1] This period coincided with a decline in the influence of Turabi and his party's "internationalist and ideological wing" in favor of more pragmatic leaders, brought on by the imposition of UN sanctions on Sudan in punishment for Sudan's assistance to Egyptian terrorists in their attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Turabi was imprisoned in the Kobar (Cooper) prison in Khartoum on the orders of his one-time ally, President Omar al-Bashir, in March 2004. He was released on June 28, 2005.

Religious and political beliefs

Turabi has espoused progressive Islamist ideas, such as the embrace of democracy, healing the breach between the Sunni and the Shia, integrating art, music, singing into religion, [2] and expanding the rights of women, where he noted:

The Prophet himself used to visit women, not men, for counseling and advice. They could lead prayer. Even in his battles, they are there! In the election between Othman and Ali to determine who will be the successor to the Prophet, they voted! [3]

h In another interview he said, "I want women to work and become part of public life" because "the home doesn't require much work anymore, what with all the appliance father , During an interview on Al-Arabiya TV in 2006, Al-Turabi describes the requirement of hijab as applying only to the Prophet's wives, saying hijab was "a curtain in the Prophet's room. Naturally, it was impossible for the Prophet's wife to sit there when people entered the room." [4] He opposed death penalty for apostasy from Islam and opposed Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence fatwa against Salman Rushdie. He declared Islamist organizations "too focused on narrow historical debates and behavioral issues of what should be forbidden, at the expense of economic and social development".[5]

Al-Turabi also laid out his vision for a Sharia law that would be applied gradually instead of forcefully and would apply only to Muslims, who would share power with the Christians in a federal system.

However after Turabi came to power in a military coup d'état that overthrew a democratic government, his regime was characterized by harsh human rights violations rather than progressive or liberal theology.[6]

Political career

After graduating, he returned to Sudan and became a member of the Islamic Charter Front, an offshoot of the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Within a five year period, the Islamic Charter Front became a large political group that identified Al-Turabi as its Secretary general in 1964. Through the Islamic Charter Front, Al-Turabi worked with two factions of the Sudanese Islamic movement, Ansar and Khatmiyyah, to draft an Islamic constitution. Members of Ansar define themselves as the followers of Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, stemming from nineteenth century Sudan. Al-Turabi remained with the Islamic Charter Front until 1969, when Gaafar Nimeiry assumed power in a coup. The members of Islamic Charter Front were arrested, and Turabi spent six years in custody and three in exile in Libya.

In 1977, the regime and the two factions of the Islamic movement in Sudan attempt to reach a "national reconciliation," where opposition leaders were freed and/or allowed back from exile, including Al-Turabi. "Turabi and his people now begin to play a major role, infiltrating the top echelons of the government where their education, frequently acquired in the West, made them indispensable," and "Islamizing society from the top down."[7] Al-Turabi became a leader of the Sudanese Socialist Union, and was promoted to Justice Minister in 1979.

Sharia Law

The Nimeiry administration declared the imposition of a harsh brand of Sharia law in 1983. Popular opposition against political actions such as the dissolution of the Sudanese parliament and legally-inflicted punishments such as amputations and hangings, resulted in a coup against Nimeiry in 1985.

His frequent close relationships with Sudanese governments resulted in the famous association against him in the 1986 votes, where all political parties decided to withdraw their nominees and keep only one nominee against Turabi, which led to the loss of Turabi being part of the only democratic government in Sudan during the last four decades.

1989 coup

On June 30, 1989, a coup d'etat by General Omar Hassan al-Bashir and supported by Turabi and his followers led to severe repression, including purges and executions in the upper ranks of the army, the banning of associations, political parties, and independent newspapers and the imprisonment of leading political figures and journalists. [8]

In 1994 a report issued by Human Rights Watch/Africa, conducted by Gaspar Biro, a Hungarian law professor and the United Nations' special envoy to Sudan in 1993 found the Sudanese government to be practicing "widespread and systematic torture" of political detainees.

Once uncommon in the Sudan, torture was now widespread, especially in the south. Non-Muslim women were raped, their children taken from them; paper bags filled with chili powder were placed over men's heads, and some were tied to anthills; testicles were crushed and burned by cigarettes and electrical current, according to a 1994 report by Human Rights Watch/Africa. [9]

Links to militant groups

Al-Turabi personally invited Osama bin Laden to Sudan and the al Qaeda leader based his operations there from around 1990-1996. Bin Laden moved from Saudi Arabia to Sudan in 1991, after conflict with the Saudi government over their granting of permission to the United States to station troops in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, rather allow bin Laden to fight Saddam with Afghan Arab forces. Turabi granted Bin Laden a safe and friendly haven from which to conduct jihadist activities; in return, Bin Laden agreed to help the Sudanese government in roadbuilding and to fight animist and Christian separatists in Southern Sudan. While in Sudan, bin Laden is reported to have married one of Turabi's nieces.[10]

Other violent groups Turabi invited and allowed to operate freely included Abu Nidal Organization, which had killed more than 900 people in 20 different countries, aiming mainly at Jews and moderate Arabs; and Hezbollah, which had killed more Americans at that time than any other non-state organization; and Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, now posing as a French arms dealer. Carlos had converted from Marxism to radical Islam. [11] Sudanese sanctuary was not unconditional as it later allowed French intelligence to kidnap Carlos the Jackal while he was undergoing an operation on his right testicle." (p.219)

Turabi founded the annual Popular Arab and Islamic Conference (also sometimes called the Congress) around 1991. Meeting here were several Islamic groups from around the world, including representatives from the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Algerian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.

Turabi sought to persuade Shiites and Sunnis to put aside their divisions and join against the common enemy. In late 1991 or 1992, discussions in Sudan between Al-Qaeda and Iranian operatives led to an informal agreement to cooperate in providing support--even if only training--for actions carried out primarily against Israel and the United States. Not long afterward, senior al Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives.[12][unreliable source?]

In August 1993 Sudan was placed on the U.S.'s list of "state sponsors of terrorism," following the first World Trade Center bombing in February. The US State Department notes that "five of 15 suspects arrested" following the bombing were Sudanese. [13]

Mubarak assassination attempt

Two years later an assassination attempt was made on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, many of whose members were living in exile in Sudan. [14] Evidence from the Egyptian and Ethiopian governments implicated the Sudanese government[14][15][16]

"The debacle led to a unanimous vote in the United Nations to impose stiff economic sanctions on Sudan. The Sudanese representative denied the charges, but the Sudanese delegation was already in disfavor, having been implicated only two years earlier in a plot to blow up UN headquarters ..." [16]

Rather than disassociate himself from the plot, Turabi praised the attempted killing and called Mubarak stupid:

The sons of the Prophet Moses, the Muslims, rose up against him confounded his plans, and sent him back to his country .... I found the man to be very far below my level of thinking and my view, and too stupid to understand my pronouncements. [17]

Decline of influence

In May 1992, al-Turabi was wounded in an attack by a Sudanese-Canadian at Ottawa International Airport.[18]

The international sanctions took effect in April 1996 and were accompanied by a "general withdrawal of the diplomatic community" from Khartoum. At the same time Sudan worked to appease America and other international critics by expelling members fo the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and encouraging bin Laden to leave.[19]

In March 1996, national elections were held for the first time since the coup,[20] and Turabi was elected to a seat in the National Assembly where he served as speaker of the National Assembly "during the 1990s."[1] This was his first instance of holding a political position with some consistency.[citation needed] During the "last few years of the 1990s", his influence and that of his party's "'internationalist' and ideological wing" waned "in favor of the 'nationalist' or more pragmatic leaders who focus on trying to recover from Sudan's disastrous international isolation and economic damage that resulted from ideological adventurism."[21]

Imprisonment and later years

After a political falling out with President Omar al-Bashir in 1999,[22] Turabi was imprisoned based on allegations of conspiracy before being released in October 2003.[23] He was again imprisoned in the Kober (Cooper) prison in Khartoum in March 2004. He was released on June 28, 2005.

In 2004, he was reported to have been associated with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), an Islamist armed rebel group involved in the Darfur conflict. Turabi himself has denied these claims.

In 2006, al-Turabi made international headlines when he issued a fatwa allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, in contradiction to the accepted Sharia law.[24]

After the JEM attacked Khartoum and Omdurman[25] on May 10, 2008,[26] Turabi was arrested on the morning of May 12, 2008, along with other members of his Popular Congress Party (PCP). He said that he had expected the arrest, which occurred while he was returning to Khartoum from a PCP gathering in Sennar.[23] He was questioned and released without charge[27] later in the day, after about 12 hours in detention.[28]

Presidential advisor Mustaf Osman Ismail said that Turabi's name had been found on JEM documents,[28] but he denied that Turabi had been arrested, asserting that he had merely been "summoned" for questioning. Turabi, however, said that it was an arrest and that he had been held at Kober.[23] According to Turabi, he was questioned regarding the relationship between the PCP and JEM, but he did not answer this question,[25] although he denied that there was a relationship after his release;[23] he also said that he was asked why he did not condemn the rebel attack.[28] He said that the security officers questioning him had "terrified" him[25] and that, although they claimed to have proof against him, they did not show him this proof when he asked to see it.[23]

Salva Kiir Mayardit, the First Vice-President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, said that there had been no discussion about arresting Turabi at a presidency meeting on the previous day and that there was no security report implicating him. He alleged that Turabi was being used as a scapegoat.[26]

In an interview on May 17, 2008, Turabi described the JEM's attack on Khartoum as "positive" and said that there was "so much misery in Darfur, genocidal measures actually". He also said that the JEM attack could spark more unrest.[22]

On January 12, 2009, Turabi called on Bashir to surrender himself to the International Criminal Court for the sake of the country, while holding Bashir politically responsible for war crimes in Darfur.[29] He was then arrested on January 14[29][30] and held in prison for two months (until March 8) [31] at the Kober prison before being moved to Port Sudan prison.[32] During this time members of his family expressed concern about his health (he is 75) and his being held in solitary confinement at least some of the time.[30] Amnesty International also released a statement about Turabi's arrest on January 16, describing it as "arbitrary" and politically motivated. Noting Turabi's advanced age and his need for medication and a special diet.[29] The Sudanese Media Centre reported on January 19 that Turabi would be put on trial for his alleged assistance to the JEM.[33]

On March 8 he was released only days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir.[34] On April 11, 2009, the PCP called for the creation of a transitional government to lead Sudan to the planned 2010 election, and Turabi suggested that he would not stand as a candidate due to his advanced age; he emphasized the importance of leadership coming from younger generations and said that he did not have enough energy to run.[35] In April al-Turabi was stopped at Khartoum airport and prevented from travelling to Paris for medical tests despite having obtained permission to travel from the interior ministry.[31]

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