By Eric Reeves
…Hudud, a specific category of punishment within the penal code of sharia (Islamic law), is unspeakably barbaric in Sudan. And this barbarism has not diminished in recent years, despite claims in some quarters that Islamism is on the wane in Sudan, still a vast and highly various country. The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIC/NCP) regime is as committed as ever to an extremely aggressive interpretation of sharia, as well as its uniform imposition. Under the penal provisions of hudud in Sudan, women are regularly sentenced to be flogged (a punishment that can be fatal) for crimes ranging from brewing beer to support a family to wearing insufficiently “modest” clothing. Even more shocking, women—and girls—are sentenced to be stoned to death under Sudanese hudud for adultery. Although sentences are typically commuted in the judicial proceedings, commutation is entirely arbitrary and seems to depend upon the degree of international attention that is focused on a given case. The execution itself is carried out by a crowd throwing stones at the victim, who is buried up to her chest with her hands tied. It is a slow, grim, and agonizing death.
Cross-amputation—the amputation of the right hand and left foot—is almost incomprehensibly cruel, yet it too persists. A case from several years ago gained prominence in the human rights world because the sentence was handed out to a 16-year-old boy. Most of these cases go unreported, but not always (the link here is to a horrific photograph of four Darfuri men who have had the sentence of cross-amputation imposed; I urge caution in deciding whether or not to view this disturbing photograph). There is no sign that the imposition of this brutally destructive assault on human flesh and spirit will end soon.
Crucifixion is also a punishment under Sudanese hudud. It is the punishment for apostasy (leaving the faith of Islam), but other crimes as well. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies reported on the cases of seven men last November:
“On 28 November 2011, Judge Altyeb Alamin Elbashir of the Special Criminal Court in North Darfur sentenced seven individuals to death and ordered them crucified following their execution. The purpose of crucifixion is to draw attention to their crimes. The group, affiliated with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), was on trial for a carjacking committed on 3 May 2010.”
If the current regime in Khartoum and its president, Omar al-Bashir, have their way, all this will continue. Having allowed the South to secede a year ago, the regime confronts increasing pressures from both the more radical Islamists and the more thuggish of military hardliners. These pressures are reflected in al-Bashir’s promise about Sudan’s new constitution and the laws that will govern all Sudanese, Muslim and non-Muslim alike:
“Sudan constitution to be ’100 percent Islamic’: President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Saturday Sudan’s next constitution would be ’100 percent Islamic’ to set an example for neighbouring countries, some of which have seen religious parties gain power after popular uprisings. The secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan a year ago sparked predictions that Sudan, which hosted former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, would start implementing Islamic law more strictly. In a speech to leaders of the mystical Islamic Sufi tradition in Khartoum, Bashir suggested Sudan’s new, post-secession constitution could help guide the region’s political transformation. ‘We want to present a constitution that serves as a template to those around us. And our template is clear, a 100 percent Islamic constitution, without communism or secularism or Western (influences),’ said Bashir.” (Reuters [Khartoum], July 7, 2012)
This is the president of the regime that the Obama administration believes is capable of “carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures” in Sudan. But without regime change, and the success of the current uprising, al-Bashir has given us all too clear an understanding of the future of “constitutional reform” and source of “law” for all in Sudan, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
At the same time, one of the most remarkable features of the “Arab Spring” now spreading throughout Sudan is the increasingly courageous and adamant stand of women against the brutal excesses of Sudanese sharia (other, even more uniformly Muslim countries follow versions of sharia that are not nearly so severe). Women have been at the center of the year-old resistance movement Girifna, and have made their voices heard in increasingly public fashion. One of the videos linked below provides a clandestine view of women exuberantly protesting flogging while actually in prison. It is the very spirit of political resistance to tyranny, political and religious.
It is worth noting that in Sudan, the regime’s respect for sharia does not extend to forbidding torture of the most savage sort. Having read numerous personal statements by victims of torture as part of my work on Sudanese asylum cases, and having spoken with some of these victims, I find an obscene disconnect between the Quran’s repeated speaking in “the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” and the realities of Kober Prison and the various “ghost houses” in which Sudanese continue to endure unspeakable pain and suffering—brutal torture that is sanctioned by not a single passage in the Quran (see Appendix). I will not include their terrifying accounts here, but should anyone doubt the extremity of torture in Sudan, I would urge a reading of Chapter 20 of Halima Bashir’s searing memoir, Tears of the Desert (2008)….
Filed under: Barbaric, Evil, Islam, Sudan | Tagged: Barbaric, injustice, Islam, sharia law, Sudan | Comments Off