Tuesday, 24 April 2012

President Bashir’s dictionary

Following the lead of President Bashir the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) started using the term hashara, a pun on haraka (movement), when referring to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). President Bashir also suggested tadmeer (destruction) instead of tahreer (liberation) but only hashara caught on. The resemblance with inyenzi (cockroaches), the term used by Hutu extremists to depict their Tutsi enemies in the run up to the 1994 Rwanda massacres, cannot be missed. The President inaugurated the public use of hashara in his victory speech to a company of Sudanese troops in al-Kurmuk, once the stronghold of the SPLM-North in the Blue Nile, on 6 November 2011, granting the observer a glimpse into the combat obscenities of the SAF. 
President Bashir popularized the term in two mobilisation speeches preceding the Sudanese army’s reclaim of Heglig, one in the National Congress Party (NCP) headquarters in Khartoum and another in al-Obeid, the capital of Kordofan state, and in two others celebrating the victory on 20 April. In these last events the cheering crowds would not settle for anything less than the hashara. Abd al-Rahman al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, the President’s assistant and son of the National Umma Party (NUP) boss, was booed to silence when he suggested that Sudan and South Sudan would eventually have to cooperate. When the President rose to speak he was welcomed with the cheer kul al-guwa juba juwa – all the force into Juba, a recycle of the battle cry of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) kul al-guwa al-khartoum juwa – all the force into Khartoum, followed by al-shaab yureed tahreer al-janub – the people want the liberation of South [Sudan]. The President said the SAF would proceed to crush the hasharat (pl.) in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile but made no mention of the declaration two days earlier that his plan was now to topple the SPLM regime in Juba. The audience was not satisfied prompting the President to make another of his stage decisions. Sudan’s pipelines will remain closed to South Sudanese oil even if Juba agrees to grant Khartoum the 50% share it enjoyed during the six years interim period of the expired Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), announced an elated Bashir, igniting another round of nationalist orgasms among the crowd. 
Emboldened by the President’s sanction individual patriots rehabilitated the words abd (slave) and farkh (a descendant of slaves) for use in the public domain when referring to the South Sudanese. The racial slurs are in themselves not novel; they constitute elements of the ideological baggage of Sudan’s ruling class. Novel however is their unashamed public employment. I came across a salvo of such insults in the comments section of a Youtube recording of a South Sudan Television interview with Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the country’s Minister of Information, in which he asserted that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had pulled out of Heglig and was not defeated by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). The Minister ridiculed the victory celebrations in Khartoum saying the Sudanese government was fooling itself and its people. 
Followers of Mohamed Abd al-Karim, a particularly zealous Islamist cleric, took things a step further last Saturday. The assailants stormed a compound of the Evangelical Church in the Khartoum suburb al-Jireif, ransacked the buildings and burned Bibles after breaking through a police cordon. Abd al-Karim allegedly incited the attack in a sermon delivered the day before. No casualties were recorded. The popular committee of al-Jireif, a neighbourhood level administrative organ, laid claim to the land occupied by the church a month before. Abd al-Karim, said the pastor of the church, told worshippers in the mosque where he preaches nearby to go and seize what is theirs. The Undersecretary of the Ministry for Religious Endowments, Hamid Yusif, paid a visit to the church the next day and in an address to its congregation, a mix of South Sudanese, Sudanese from the Nuba Mountains, Eritreans and Ethiopians, promised an investigation into the incident. The Ministry, he said, “condemns this attack and considers it an extremist act born out of individual religious opinion”, an opinion he described as “false and misguided”. 
The “misguided” opinion Mr Undersecretary is certainly not individual; it is propagated daily by al-Intibaha, ubiquitous among the NCP high priests, sanctioned by the state, and has long become the working ideology of an urban mob.

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Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.