Monday, September 11, 2006

Islamism in Sudan

From George Packer, "Moderate Martyr: Interpreting Islam for the modern world," New Yorker, September 11, 2006:
The Sudanese version [of Islamism] was not a genuine revolution like the Iranian one; it was more of an elite project that never gained legitimacy outside of student, intellectual, and military circles. Still, Sudan's hard-line party, the National Islamic Front, marched the country through familiar paces. Suliman Baldo, the director of the Africa program at the International Crisis Group, who lived through the years of Islamization in Khartoum and published a report documenting the return of slavery in Sudan, said of the government, "They came with a social-engineering project--they were very open about this." Education became a form of indoctrination: small children learned jihadist chants; school uniforms were replaced with combat fatigues; students engaged in paramilitary drills and memorized the Koran; teachers overhauled the curriculum to focus on the glory of Arab and Islamic culture. Khartoum had been a socially relaxed city that celebrated Christmas, but now the morals police insured that women were veiled, especially in government offices and universities. The security agencies were taken over by Islamists, and torture chambers known as "ghost houses" proliferated in what had been a tolerant political culture.... And so an ethnically and religiously mixed African country, with an egalitarian form of Sufism as its dominant form of Islam, was mobilized by intellectuals and soldiers to create a militaristic, ideologically extreme state whose main achievements were civil war, slavery, famine, and mass death.
Authoritarian High Modernism: Islamist Edition.

What's more, just substitute "Christian" for "Muslim" and "American" for "Arab" and you pretty much have the scenario the Christian Right dreams of for our own country.

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