الأربعاء، 11 سبتمبر، 2013

Floods in Sudan: intervention beyond community-based initiatives is needed

Published here
The night of Wednesday July 31, 2013 in Alfath, a town northwest of the city of Omdurman, two children aged four and two died instantaneously after the roof of their house fell in; leaving their three brothers injured. When it rains in Alfath, parents have always put their children’s beds in the yard or even on the streets and covered them with plastic blankets in an attempt to keep them as far from falling walls as possible. A father of three children said "We cannot risk our children’s lives; it's better to keep them cold and wet rather than buried under debris." Another 3 kids were reportedly killed by electric shock on the evening of August 9 in the Gabra neighborhood of Khartoum.

Since the evening of August 1, 2013, Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, has witnessed heavy rainfall and harsh floods. The rainfall came up to 32-56 mml, making it higher than it has been in years and the damage even worse. The yearly rainy season, usually from the end of June into the beginning of September, always leaves many people injured or dead, due to the collapse of houses and roads. 

But these devastating effects of rainfall and floods do not seem to have much impact on the Sudanese government. Three days after the disaster, President Omar Elbashir flew to Tehran to congratulate the newly elected Iranian president without making any official statement with regards to the floods. The Khartoum state governor, in a TV interview, denied that this was a  “disaster” calling the situation a "crisis" instead, on the grounds that it was only a disaster if half the total population was affected. Abdulgadir Hemmat, head of the Khartoum Roads and Bridges Authority, meanwhile, admitted that the sacloe of the destruction was due to houses poorly built out of weak and cheap materials. He also made a point of saying that the houses built out of cement blocks were not affected and by doing so made the residents of Khartoum responsible for the damage they had incurred. 

The Sudan Metrological Authority website has apparently not been updated since 2012. They presented last year’s forecast as this year’s, failing to predict heavy rainfall. On the other hand, the website of the Ministry of Civil Defense was quick to report how a fire at the US Embassy in Khartoum was handled last January 2013.

As of August 9, the death toll came to 53 persons and the estimate of those affected by the floods exceeds 72,585 persons in Sharq Elnil, Kararri, Umbadda and northern Khartoum. According to UN dispatch, the Sudanese government has put restrictions on the humanitarian assistance NGOs can provide in flood-affected areas. As a result of these restrictions as well as the government’s reluctance in providing assistance and managing the floods, a wave of popular unrest has emerged in Alfath, Umbadda and Sharq Alnil as well as on social media sites. The protestors have demanded aid from the government, but the government has responded violently by trying to disperse the protests with tear gas. 

Nafeer, a community-based youth-led initiative, was formed on Facebook on Friday, August 2, 2013. They started operating from Gisr Centre’s headquarters, another youth led non-profit organization, by assessing and responding to people’s needs in the affected areas. They have been collecting donations, providing tents, plastic sheets, food, clothes and medical assistance to all those affected. Almost 1200 volunteers registered and joined Nafeer in its first week of operations. On August 5-6 alone they received 264 calls on their emergency hotline. Local residents and the Sudanese diaspora have made cash donations exceeding 400 thousand Sudanese pounds (approx. 57 000 USD).

Community-based initiatives like Nafeer frequently emerge to bridge the gap between people’s needs and lack of government services. Charitable initiatives, like Sadaggat and Shariee Alhawadith, have been providing food and clothes as well as medical care for years. They offer much-needed assistance and an ‘alternative’ to the official social welfare system which does not exist. 

However, Nafeer is different as they are offering ad hoc solutions for an emergency situation that needs mass government and national intervention. Although Nafeer aspires to offer assistance nationwide to all those affected by the floods, their work is inevitably limited to the State of Khartoum as it is difficult to access all the other areas. In North Darfur 2000 houses were destroyed by rainfall on August 1, 2013 and 500 houses in Dereig IDP camp in South Darfur was destroyed on July 17, 2013. 

There hasn’t been any attempt at the reconstruction of homes or shelter let alone psychosocial support for the survivors; what is needed extends far beyond the immediate assistance provided.  "It has been a horrible, unforgettable experience. My family has lost everything, thanks to Allah we are alive. Now, in just one week, I cannot imagine going back to university. We've lost everything; I'm afraid the roads to downtown Khartoum no longer function. Anyway I can't see myself ever resuming my normal life" said a flood survivor from Sharq Elnil on the eve of Alfitr day.







Islamists in Sudan: too many faces of the same coin

Published here
Sudanese Islamic parties and groups have organized a protest on Monday July 8, 2013 in front of the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum in support of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, claiming that the 30 June wave of protests was a military coup against the constitutional legitimacy of the elected president, and calling for prosecution of Abdul Fatah Al Sisi, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Egypt and Dr. Mohamed Al Baradei, the leader of the National Salvation Front. Although the government of Sudan, dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP), announced that “whatever is happening in Egypt is an internal affair” - parliamentarians representing NCP have joined in the protests.
Looking at the groups party to this process exposes many Islamic-driven subdivisions from the same cell of the Muslim Brotherhood. These include the Muslim Brotherhood themselves, the Popular Congress Party (PCP), the Just Peace Forum (JPF), the Islamic Constitutional Front (ICF) and the Saehoon group.
The Just Peace Forum was formed in 2004 by a racist group of Islamists led by Eltayeb Mustafa, the uncle of president Omar Elbashir. Its main aim was to mobilize people against ‘Southerners’ and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that brought peace between the north and south and gave southerners the right to self-determination which resulted, in 2011, in the independence of South Sudan. JPF claims include the allegation that Northerners have been abused by the Southerners and that jihad is the only way to bring about peace and justice.
The Islamic Constitutional Front was formed in Dec 2012, and called for the building of an Islamic constitution after South Sudan secession, claiming that the 2005 interim constitution was invalid to in the eyes of the Muslim majority, & crying shame at the Islamic front for having ruled for 24 years without enforcing an Islamic constitution.
It is worth noting that civil society constitution-making initiatives were banned from organising public activities or accessing the internally dispersed camps around Khartoum which are home to two thirds of its overall population. ICF is the one and only initiative aimed at constitution-making that is allowed to conduct activities in public.
Saehoon is the most recent Islamist group. It floated to the surface in November 2012, after the coup attempt made by ex-spies Chief Salah Gosh, the Brigadier-General Mohamed Ibrahim and the Major-General Adil Eltayeb. They are calling for reforming NCP and stopping the war in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile through declaring jihad against rebel groups.
The Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Eltorabi was formed in 1999 after the split in the ruling Islamic front that resulted in the National Congress Party (NCP) continuing in power while consigning the PCP to the opposition camp. NCP has intensified its crackdown on PCP affiliates; the friends of yesterday who have become the worst of enemies today.
Arbitrary arrests and detention for years on end are the lot of some active PCP members and even the chief of the party, Eltorabi, has exhausted the party, which has no difference of vision from all the other Islamist groups. PCP had allies among secular democratic political parties in 2009 when the National Consensus Forces (NCF) was formed to unify the opposition parties against NCP. But no more.
Ibrahim Elsanosi; the vice president of PCP has switched from democratic speech to that of the divine and has been addressing the protestors saying that Al Sisi is the Lord's enemy and the National Rescue Front is a coalition of the secular entity that is enemy number one. You would never imagine that  his party had ever been in alliance with secular political parties in Sudan in the NCF.
The Islamic Front was formed in 1985 after they had split away from the Muslim Brotherhood. They took over power through a military coup and ousted the elected democratic government on June 30, 1989. Rather in contrast to the sentiments they have expressed about Egypt's June 30 wave of protests; they immediately banned all political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations; arrested, tortured and killed whoever dared to oppose the regime and forced thousands to flee the country fearing for their lives. PCP hypocrisy and double standards are now shining through their rhetoric on Egyptian affairs; hopefully democratic parties of the NSF will get to see this.  It has been really amazing to see dictators speaking of democracy and criminals demanding justice.

The dilemma of Sudanese politics
The aspiration for a democratic secular state is endangered by having Muslim Brotherhoods sub-sets in power and in the opposition as well,  leaving far too little space for democratic secular parties and a youth movement to grow in, intensifying the threat of a crackdown and allowing the Islamist opposition to protest and demonstrate to the world how democratic the Sudanese government is.
Another thing that made us sit up was seeing police authorities protecting the Islamist pro-democracy protests; while last year during June and July peaceful popular anti-regime protests activists reported that over 2000 persons were arbitrary arrested by national intelligence and security services and detained for 5-8 weeks.
The June/July detainees testified that they have been tortured and maltreated by security officers. A junior female student in the University of Khartoum has lost an eye to a rubber bullet shot inside the university campus. 13 teenagers were shot to death by police forces in Nyala on July 31, 2013.
While the June/July anti regime protests were raging; Sudanese Islamists were chanting in the streets and celebrating their Egyptian victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi's inauguration. Today, a year later, they are bemoaning that Morsi has been ousted,  not so much for Morsi's sake as out of fear that Sudanese youth will be inspired by their Egyptian counterparts, who once before drove Sudanese people to take to the streets, on January 30,2011 and in the June/July summer 2012 protests - in an attempt to bring down the Islamic Front/ NCP regime. It is impressive to watch how Egyptian political dynamics influence and inspire Sudanese politics.

الأحد، 8 سبتمبر، 2013

سياسة القهر في دولة الشريعة الاسلامية


اعتقلت الناشطة أميرة عثمان يوم 27 أغسطس 2013 بتهمة "الزي الفاضح" تحت المادة 152 من القانون الجنائي وذلك لعدم استجابتها لأوامر رجل الشرطة بوضع الطرحة على شعرها. رفضت أميرة المحاكمة الايجازية وأصرت على حقها في تمثيلها بواسطة محامي و اختارت أن تتحدث وتوجه دعوة للجميع لحضور محاكمتها يوم الأحد 1 سبتمبر 2013. وجدت أميرة قرابة المائة شخص، رجالاً ونساء في انتظارها أمام ساحة المحكمة عندما حضرت مرتدية نفس الملابس التي كانت ترتديها ساعة القاء القبض عليها، وأجلت المحاكمة لغياب القاضي.
 
أميرة عثمان بعد تأجيل المحاكمة، مصدر الصورة https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=160622257476136&set=a.160540914150937.1073741829.126831357521893&type=1&theater
قبيل أسابيع قليلة، أطلق سراح نور الهادي عباس، شيخ ومعالج تقليدي بعد اتهامه باغتصاب طالبة جامعية والحكم عليه بالسجن 10 سنوات والجلد مائة جلدة وفقاً لعفو بقرار رئاسي. نور الهادي لم يجلد قط وقضى عاماً واحداً في السجن. في الاسلام يعفو الله عن جميع الآثام عدا التي تتضمن ظلماً للبشر وانتهاكاً لحقوقهم، أما البشير رأس الدولة الاسلامية فقد منح نفسه حق العفو في مظالم الناس، وقد اعترف قبل شهور قليلة بمسئوليته عن دماء المسلمين التي سُفكت في دارفور ذاكراً أنه مساءل فقط أمام الله لأن حرمة قتل النفس لا يمكن معاقبتها في الحياة الدنيا.

استولت الجبهة الاسلامية القومية على الحكم عام 1989 بانقلاب عسكري وترجمت فكرها الاسلامي في "المشروع الحضاري" الهادف لإعادة صياغة الانسان السوداني وجعله "أكثر اسلاماً". ركز هذا المشروع على فرض معايير أخلاقية محددة ترتبط مباشرة بالتحكم في أجساد وسلوك النساء وذلك عبر وضع عواقب قانونية لإنتهاك هذه المعايير وتعريفها كشرط للاسلام الصحيح واجتماعياً عبر توجيه المجتمع للقهر تحت مسميات الرجولة والاسلام.

فُرض الحجاب على النساء السودانيات طيلة الأربعة وعشرين عاماً الماضية، ويعاقب الزي الفاضح الذي اتهمت به أميرة لعدم تغطية شعرها بالجلد، الغرامة أو السجن. معايير الزي الفاضح يحددها رجال الشرطة الذين يتفحصون أزياء النساء بصورة عشوائية في الشارع باحثين عمّن ترتدي بنطالاُ ضيقاً ، تنورة متوسطة الطول أو قميصاً بأكمام قصيرة أوببساطة في بعض الأحيان من لا تضع الخمار على رأسها. تعتقل كل عام الآلاف من النساء، تتم مساومتهن، جلدهن، سجنهن وتغريمهن بسبب ما يرتدينه. يوجه الإتهام بالدعارة للتواجد في مكان الدعارة الذي كما عرفه القانون يمكن أن يكون سيارة، مكتب، قاعة دراسة أو حتى شارعاً مظلم. تخرج قليل من هؤلاء النساء الى العلن مثلما فعلت أميرة ليتحدث عن ما مررن به خوفاً من الوصمة الاجتماعية بعدم الاخلاق والاسلام.

إن تفسير الحجاب في القرآن الكريم يختلف كثيراً بين الطوائف، حيث يرى السنة الوهابيون وجوب النقاب وتغطية الوجه، تتمسك كثير من الطوائف بكشف الوجه والكفين كما يرى البعض أن الحجاب ليس جزءاً من الاسلام بل الثقافة العربية. قبل أربعة عشر قرن وفي عهد النبي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم في مجتمع شبه الجزيرة العربية البدوي لم تجلد أو تعاقب النساء لعدم ارتدائهن الحجاب. بالطبع لا تحاول الجبهة الاسلامية تحويل السودان لمجتمع أكثر اسلاماً من مجتمع الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بل منح قهر النساء سلطة إلهية. أن حكومتنا " المسلمة" التي تصف الشيعة بالمشركين والخارجين  عن الملة، تمنع أنشطتهم (هذا يعتمد على العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع ايران والمملكة العربية السعودية) وتهاجمهم لفظياً خلال خطب الجمعة ولكن القضاة لايتوانون عن اصدار أحكام بالرجم كما حدث العام الماضي على اثنتين من النساء بناءاً على المذهب اليزيدي الجعفري الذي يبيح رجم الزانية المحصنة حتى وان لم يتم اتهام شريك ذكر في الجريمة. ويبدو من هذا المثال أن النظام يبحث عن أكثر الفتاوى تشدداً وقهراً للنساء حتى وإن كان على خلاف كبير مع مصدرها.

انني على قناعة بأن ما يحدث في السودان لا علاقة له بالاسلام بل بسياسات القهر. كإمرأة مسلمة أتمنى أن أرى نهوض المسلمين رجالاً ونساء ضد الانتهاكات الممارسة باسم الدين. مبدئياً يرتبط وجودنا في هذه الدولة بوضعنا كمواطنين نتمتع بالحريات والحقوق وليس بوضعنا كمسلمين أو غير ذلك. إن الدين كقناعة شخصية لا يجب أن يكون من شؤون الدولة أو أداة لظلم واذلال البشر.