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Conflict of National Identity in Sudan

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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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3 Reconstruction of Diversities in Sudan

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Nationalism is a perceived conceptual political ideology that certain groups of people pursue in order to establish a sovereign territorial state for themselves. Nevertheless, within that territory, power endeavours to build institutions, but it encounters certain obstructions arising from the choice of multiple models to be adopted in building those institutions for citizens. In selection, one economic, ethnic, racial or religious model may influence power to adopt it as a pattern for constructing national identity in the constitution of a state. At this phase, conflict- ing controversies may arise and become the dominant phenomena between power and institutions and the relationship of some citizens with power may intensely shift from the status of political harmony to political crisis.237 After the decolonisation of Sudan, power in the state strives to build national identity on the intertwined classical ideological category of Islamic Arabism. It is an ideological model that interlaces Islam and Arab as one entity. Prunier observes that the successive ruling Muslim Arab elite in control of power in Sudan, since independence conceive Islamisation of the territorial state as an instrument of Arabisation.238 Some Muslim Arab students consider this model a positive step and provide different reasons for it. Some articulate that their sup- port to the model is an ideological one because; it helps in unifying the existing ethnic and religious diversities in Sudan. In practice, it has already homogenised the diverse Northern ethnic groups from the far north, the west, the east and the centre as one group known...

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