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An Apology…and a Call for Ablutions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Here we have an Arab paradox: Watban al-Tikriti, half brother of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, stands apologizing to the Iraqi people for the abuses and violations committed by the Baath Party against Iraq and its people. Meanwhile the Sudanese President stands in front of citizens protesting against the brutal whipping of a Sudanese woman, and demands that they perform ablutions, pray to God, and return to Islam!

Ironically, Watban stood apologizing for the actions of the Baath Party after Baghdad had already been destroyed, thus rendering his apology useless, as the country has now entered a dark tunnel of terror, fear, and sectarianism. Iraq is under hidden Iranian occupation. While the Americans have announced the beginning of their withdrawal from Baghdad, we do not know when the Iranian withdrawal will be announced. Meanwhile, as Sudan prepares for separation, or division, its President stands in front of his citizens and says: “If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and then there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity. Shariaa and Islam will be the main source for the constitution”. However, he went on to say “Some people are talking about the girl who was lashed in accordance with God’s punishment. Those who say they are ashamed by this should perform ablutions, pray to God, and return to Islam”.

Sudan is on the verge of separation, and the government continues to sell its citizens the same slogan it championed when it first seized power, namely that Islam is the solution, and one can do nothing but repeat the following verse of poetry:

O you who worships in the vicinity of the Two Holy Mosques! If you but see us, you will realize that you are only jesting in worship.

The country is under the threat of sanctions, international prosecutions, and division is just around the corner. The government is busy justifying its brutal whipping of a woman, and has promised its citizens that Islamic Shariaa law will be enforce more strictly if the south secedes from the north. It is like someone threatening to gouge out their left eye, once their right eye has already been gouged out!

My intention here is not to object to the application of Shariaa law, but to say that Sudan today is not suffering from moral decay, or the spread of vice. Rather, it is suffering from widespread unemployment, a national brain drain, and a decline in its production capacity. It is also suffering from international isolation and internal fragmentation. Sudan to this day is still flying on the wings of misguided slogans. Sudan is suffering from internal conflicts caused by wars and ill judged policies, not a lack of religious commitment. Justice is the foundation of governance, and the value of a human being, his blood and his dignity, surpasses all else, regardless of its value; for wouldn’t the end of the world by easier on God than the [shedding] of the blood of a believer?

It is a puzzling matter indeed, and it burns at one’s conscience. Will we wait every thirty years for someone to stand up and apologize, after it is too late? Today we see Hassan al-Turabi speaking in the name of human rights, yet he is the godfather of Sudan’s present destruction. What if Nimeiri also returned to stand and apologize for what he did in Sudan, when he applied Islamic Shariaa law in the final years of his rule, which was practically akin to lashing the entire country!

This story cannot be likened to any other, but I will say this: Why do the Arabs not benefit from history in order not to make the same mistakes? This is what really puzzles us, for unfortunately all of our mistakes are similar and repeated; from Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen to Sudan, and also including some of the Gulf States as well!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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