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Conflict of National Identity in Sudan


Kuel Jok

This study addresses the contemporary conflict of national identity in Sudan between the adherents of Islamic nationalism and those of customary secularism. The former urge the adoption of a national constitution that derives its civil and criminal laws from the Sharia, and want Arabic as the language of instruction in national institutions. The latter demand the adoption of secular laws, derived from the set of customary laws, and equal opportunities for all African languages beside Arabic and English. In the past, the adherents of Islamic nationalism imposed the Islamic-Arab model. In reaction, secularists resorted to violence; the Islamists declared Jihad against the secularists and adopted a racial war, which has caused a humanitarian disaster. The main primary material of this research is based on a survey conducted among 500 students of five universities in Sudan. Besides, the study considers the diverse theoretical models for the formation of a nation-state, where diversity is not discouraged, but states apply laws to promote religious and ethnic diversities within one territorial state.


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Sudan remains an unstable state with cycles of ruthless civil wars1 that devastate its infrastructure2, threaten its territorial integrity3, flaw its economic growth and engender woeful humanitarian destitution4 and catastrophes.5 The objectives of these wars emanate from religious, economic and cultural settings. In the North- ern Sudan, the Islamic religion is associated with the Arabic language, culture and race, due to its association with the Middle East. On the other hand, the con- cerns of the population of the South consist of economic deprivation of its region, limited participation in power sharing and the systematic threats to its Christian, Animist and African cultural identity.6 This research explores how decision-makers in Sudan address these com- plex objectives in a national constitution for the citizens. Since, 1958 to present day, major political parties in Sudan fail several times to reach a consensus to legislate a unified constitutional system. The Islamic political parties of Umma with its sect, Ansar, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with its al-Khatimyyia sect and the National Islamic Front (NIF), which has rifted into the National Congress Party (NCP) and currently leads by the President Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir and the Popular Congress Party (PCP), under the leadership 1 Johnson, Douglas Hamilton. “The Sudan People’s liberation Army & the Problem of Fac- tionalism” in Christopher Clamham (ed.) (1998). African Guerrillas, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 60-61. Civil violence in Sudan started in 1955 and ended in 1972 and resumed in 1983. 2 Leopold, Mark (2005). Inside West Nile, Violence, History & Representation...

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