Just yesterday I came across a Muslim writer (as part of a an attack on this site that was long on rhetoric but short on facts) asserting that the conflict in Darfur has nothing to do with jihad, but is ethnic — despite clear statements from Khartoum indicating otherwise. And now this: secularism must not be allowed in Darfur — it must be ruled by Sharia, or else. What do you say now, Jo?
From MiddleEastOnline, with thanks to Twostellas:
ABUJA – Sudanese rebel leaders demanded that Islam be kept out of government in the war torn region of Darfur on Friday, opening up another potentially dangerous rift between them and the Khartoum government.
Speaking as African Union peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja moved on to discussion of a political settlement to the 20-month-old civil conflict, rebel leaders called for a clear division between religion and the state in Sudan.
“We are now prepared to start deliberations on the political issues, following the appeal of the international observers and facilitators,” said Mahgoud Hussein, spokesman for the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).
“Firstly, we’ll start with the declaration of principles. We want a clear distinction between the state and religion. Right now in Sudan you have a situation where Islam is given prominence over other religions,” he added.
“This shouldn’t be so. Even though I’m a Muslim, we want religion to be a personal thing with every citizen having the freedom to practice what he believes in,” he explained.
The rebel demand was immediately rejected by government negotiators, who insisted that mainly-Muslim northern Sudan, including Darfur, should be governed under the principles of Islamic law.
“Darfur is in the north, so Sharia law should apply. It is not negotiable,” said Abdul Zuma, media adviser to the Sudanese government at the talks.