In our last editorial, we noted the literary achievements of the
Sudanese novelist al-Tayib Saleh whose writings provide nuanced and
multi-dimensional portraits and analyses of the Sudanese and Sudanese
life. Needless to say, it is very unlikely that al-Tayib Saleh would
have made those achievements without the benefit of education. But if
al-Tayib Saleh is an example of someone whose education bore positive
results for the Sudanese people, there is another highly educated
Sudanese man whose education brought only ruin and grief to his people.
That man is Hassan al-Turabi. Mind you, in terms of formal education,
Hassan al-Turabiís credentials are higher than al-Tayib Salihís, for he
holds a Ph.D from the Sorbonne. However, instead of using his education
and knowledge to improve his peopleís lot, al-Turabi used his education
as an obedient tool in the service of his hankering after power. Dr
Turabiís lust for power is so strong that he had no qualms about using
the Islamic religion for his own nefarious ends.
He did this first by opposing Sudanís late military strong man Jafar al-Numeri,
then striking a deal with Numeri through which he joined the regime and
used the newly-found Islamic orientation of the regime as a means of
strengthening his own position within the regime. Even though Numeri had
done what al-Turabi wanted, it was not enough for al-Turabi who began
conspiring against Numeri until Numeri was overthrown by a military coup
díetat. Although the coup díetat eventually led to his own
brother-in-law Sadiq al-Mahdiís rise to power, al-Turabi was still
unsatisfied. So he helped in engineering another coup díetat, this time
against his brother-in-law, and led by Hasan al-Bashir.
With extremist Islamists now in power, al-Turabi began implementing his
radical program which included inviting all sorts of terrorists like
Carlos the Jackal and Bin Laden, into the country, which alarmed many
governments, especially the United States. Western countries then felt
compelled to take countermeasures to weaken and isolate the Sudanese
regime. One of those measures was adding Sudan to the list of state
sponsors of terrorism. Another measure was supporting those who were
opposed to the regime, and since the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)
was the strongest organized opposition group to the regime, it began
receiving more tangible backing from Western governments in addition to
the assistance it already used to get from Christian churches.
Al-Turabi being al-Turabi, still was unsatisfied, and al-Bashir sensed
that his erstwhile ally was cooking something against him, so al-Bashir
made a pre-emptive move and threw him in jail. Since his release from
jail, al-Turabi has been portraying himself as an enlightened and
liberal Islamist but those attempts can only fool someone who does not
know his real history.
We are not saying here that al-Turabi is responsible for all of Sudanís
problems. But we are saying that al-Turabi is an example of someone
whose education and knowledge hurt his country instead of helping it.
Al-Tayib Saleh and Hasan Al-Turabi. Two educated and knowledgeable
Sudanese. One a blessing to his country, the other a curse.