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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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4 Dilemma between Islam and Wealth


Some Muslim students blame the Christian and Animists of the South in resisting conversion of the ‘pagan’ population in the South and Nuba Mountains to Islam. For instance, Muhammad Al-Tom states: “The elite Christians in the South are responsible for the failure of Islam to convert the pagans in the South into an Islamic faith”.526 Another argues: “The British imperialists prevented the Muslim Arabs to convert the pagans of the South and Nuba Mountains to join their broth- ers in Islam”.527 In contrast, Christian Animist students claim that, if Islam was introduced in an appropriate manner from the very beginning, the Animist population in the South would have embraced it as their religion, but slavery and looting of cattle and other atrocities stimulated them to reject Islamic faith. The students argue: “Our problem with Arab Muslims started, since the time of Muhammed Ahmed Al-Mahdi system of Mahdism, which was a regime that … had legitimated the Muslim Arabs to enslave us and kill us. Mahdism classified the citizens into slaves and slavers and without the British who created a law that prevented them to enter the South we would have had all disappeared to different markets of the slave trade”.528 Another student states: “Today the ruling party, NCP thinks that the religious and ethnic diversity is a sin; it is an infidel system and for that it dislikes British colonialism for maintaining it”.529 Furthermore, one student concludes: “For us, we love British people … their system of colonialism...

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