"Sudan is not really a country at all, but many.
A composite layers, like a genetic fingerprint of memories that were once fluid, but have since crystallized out from the crucible of possibility"
Jamal Mahjoub, a Sudanese novelist
Sunday, April 22, 2012
It Keeps Getting Worse
Picture: Sudanese Police Officers who Occupied the Church Compound and Refused to let us in. My friend, M.S took this picture
I had the most frustrating week.
I was frustrated at how the government used the Higleig conflict to market themselves and repackage themselves as nothing but Sudan's saviors and the masters of Islam. It is known that at times of war and uncertainty, people wrap themselves around their leaders, they want to be protected and rescued from this situation. With the government's horrendous track record and their addiction to conflict at the expense of their population's safety and well-being, I don't see why I should be grateful to them that Higleig is no longer an occupied territory.
Then yesterday, I head something that made me even more frustrated. An angry mob of extremists attacked the church compound in Jireif. All of a sudden, an ugly scenario played in my head. Sudan keeps getting worse. Southerners have faced discrimination and attacks in the past week because of Higleig and of course the racist propaganda pushed down our throats by the government and the president's uncle, Al-Tayeb Mustafa through his newspaper, Al-Intibaha.
So the attack came after an imam in one of the mosques , in collaboration with other imams, instigated the people in the neighborhood to "demolish" the church as Southerners worship there and they no longer have the right to be in Sudan as of April 9th.
So, a friend created a Facebook event and we all decided to go to the church at 12 p.m. today to show solidarity and clean-up with our Christian brothers and sisters.
12 p.m. to 3 p.m. is a time where you are not supposed to be out and about in Sudan unless you want to get a sun-stroke.
It was scorching hot.
We arrived there only to find one police car and a large truck full of soldiers at the entrance. They were condescending , refused to let us in and asked us to get a permit from the police station.
So, we needed a permit to enter a damaged church to help out?
We refused to leave, but thanks to them, we had to stand at the entrance under the sun and not in the shade.
They kept provoking us by asking us to move away and waved their batons at us.
So, the "solidarity event" continued. We stood there trying to convince them to let us in, after all, the criminals were allowed inside the compound and the police intervened after all the damage was done and now they can at least let us in to clean up the place and support Sudanese Christians.
At 3:30, we managed to get papers and posters ( we did not want to do this in the beginning) and wrote down our thoughts ( We are against religious extremism, Religion is a constitutional right etc) and we stood on the street holding the A4 pieces of paper and posters in an attempt to spread awareness . If the police officers refused to let us do what we set out to do, at least we get our word out to the public.
Buses stopped to read the signs and some people showed their support, others drove by not even acknowledging our existence. We were called communists and asked if we are Ethiopians.
We stood there for 30 minutes then left, many with throbbing headaches, to go home to our families or get back to work.
We left feeling a great responsibility. A responsibility to educate and to prevent the growing extremist movement in Sudan. It doesn't help that the president said that Sudan is now 98% Muslim after secession even though Sudan has a large community of Coptic Christians and Christians in the Nuba Mountains and Abyei and other areas, in addition to the remaining South Sudanese minority.