Sudanese Female Journalist Faces Apostasy

Halima Rahman
Posted February 22, 2017 from Sudan

February 22, 2017 (KHARTOUM)

Shamail Al-Nour, female columnist and reporter at Al-Tayyar independent Arabic daily newspaper, based in the capital Khartoum, faces a fierce Islamist campaign that may end up in a couple of days before the Court of apostasy and character assassination over her article, published this month, criticizing fundamentalism and methodology used in running the state, wherein she argues that instead of establishing a successful system that meets the citizens’ needs, they are policing people’s lives.

Last Friday, Mohamed Ali al-Gizouli, the general coordinator of the One Nation Movement group and an overt supporter of the Islamic State (ISIS), threatened to summon her next week before an apostasy court for her criticism of Islamist ideology which she had referred to in her article entitled: the Virtue Mania, which argues that formality is the centre of the Islamist ideology; with an extensive emphasis on virtue signalling using issues like imposing the veil, lengthening beards and persecuting civil liberties through public order law, rather than cultivating solutions to more substantially visible issues like health, education, living, etc.

“Over long years of the Islamic state rule, its main concern turned out to be imposing virtue, upbringing individuals, persecuting civil liberties, public order law ...and we have to stop here. This law did not create a virtue, and will never do. It is one of the matters most unflattering to Islamists... It is easy to drop subsidies to the health sector in the state budget, but it remains very difficult to win the battle for granting the Ministry of Health the right to condom distribution.”

In his Friday prayer sermon at a mosque in the Khartoum suburb of Al-Jerif West, Al-Jizouly, with enthusiastic engagement, ordered his followers to stand up and protect their religion. "... get angry for your law and your Lord," he called before the congregation, "How can a girl dare to write about condoms?’’. He pledged to mobilize a two-track campaign, media, and judiciary, against Al-Nur, who he described as a criminal secularist, as well as against seculars, adding later in a WhatsApp message his will to prepare more than 10000 fighters and will monitor and document any writings that go against religion.

In an article he had published a day before his Friday sermon in Alsayha newspaper, he addressed Shamail questioning and denouncing her opinion on facilitating the distribution of condoms ‘’…what bothers you about the Public Order Act persecuting civil liberties? What civil liberties do you mean? Do you know that of those who are persecuted by public order laws are alcoholic, libertines, the unveiled and homosexuals? Are those the “oppressed’’ types you seek to defend?’’

Al-Tayib Mustafa, president of the Just Peace Forum (JPF), a veteran of ruling National Congress Party(NCP) and publisher of Alsayha, relative to president Al-Bashir, and first hitter in anti-press woman campaign described Al-Nour as a libertine, miserable, reckless and described her opinion as bile and vomit.

It is well known that apostasy if proven, is punishable by death. The ordeal remains to see whether they can succeed in dragging journalist to it through gassing up the hardliners. Article 126 of the Sudanese Penal Code on apostasy provides that any Muslim who declares publicly that he/she has adopted any religion other than Islam commits the crime of apostasy and is to be punished by death. However, the provision waives the death penalty if the convicted person reconverts to Islam. [72]

Al-Nour filed a complaint against Al-Tayib Mustafa to the National Council for Press and Publication, accusing him of libel, as well as inciting radical groups against her.

Al-Tayyar newspaper editor, Ousman Mirghani, has officially requested the police protection where a vehicle loaded with elements of the Sudanese police force have been patrolling in front of Al-Tayyar newspaper headquarters since the beginning of this week, in anticipation of any possible attacks against journalists. Mirghani himself was a victim of fundamentalism three years ago when anonymous militants attacked the newspaper’s HQ in 2014. Following his diatribes on normalizing relations with Israel, the attack had caused him serious injuries that he had miraculously managed to recover from.

Sudanese Journalists for Human Rights (JAHR) issued a communiqué condemning the attack to which Ms. Al-Nour is exposed, describing what had transpired as a serious setback, as it had deployed poisoned pens on a furious campaign of terrorizing thought leaders and opinion makers. It added that it will not stand idly by about the terror campaign that Shamail is facing, a campaign which had also witnessed Al-Tayeb Mustafa deliberately using the writer’s column as a tool of instigation, with the motive of bringing forward resentful rhetoric.

Comments 8

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Jill Langhus
Feb 22, 2017
Feb 22, 2017

HI Halima. Thanks for sharing your important article about Ms. Al-Nour. I hope you keep us posted on her fate. Justice has to start somewhere. I hope she and it prevail:-) Do you have link to her article?

Halima Rahman
Feb 22, 2017
Feb 22, 2017

Dear jlanghus, 

Thank you for passing, reading and commenting! Definitely, I will keep you and the WP community posted on her fate. Her article is written in the Arabic language and widely republished by Sudanese social media. Here is the link to one of them:

https://www.alrakoba.net/news-action-show-id-263434.htm

Jill Langhus
Feb 23, 2017
Feb 23, 2017

Hi Halima, You're welcome. Thanks for the link. I was able to Google translate it, but I'm not sure if translated it properly or not!? This is what it translated to:https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F...

Leah Squires
Feb 22, 2017
Feb 22, 2017

Halima,

I wish my Arabic were good enough to understand Al-Nour's article, though I still appreciate you've reposted it here. It's inspiring to hear of women who keep writing and speaking up, particularly when they are facing such dangerous opposition. I will keep her in my mind in the coming days and hope you can tell us more as her story unfolds. I'm grateful for your thoughtful and thorough account and your efforts to amplify Al-Nour's voice. Thank you for sharing!

Halima Rahman
Feb 22, 2017
Feb 22, 2017

Dear lsquires

Thank you so much for your comment. I will keep you informed of any developments.

It is tough to be a journalist in Sudan, very tough. Journalists are reporting under difficult conditions It is tough to be a publisher too. The government has been repressing the press since 1989 up to date. It has the authority to shut down newspapers for three days without a court order etc

Sudanese independent press is currently subjected to what is called pre-publishing censorship and post-publishing confiscation. Could you imagine yourself in such a situation? Especially if you are a publisher. Imagine yourself between the hammer and the anvil.

Leah Squires
Feb 24, 2017
Feb 24, 2017

Halima, 

It is hard to imagine working under that kind of censorship. Saying such constant scrutiny would be stressful is an understatement, especially in light of Al-Nour's current situation. I'm grateful to you and for all journalists and publishers who persist and tell stories that must be heard.

Anne D.
Feb 22, 2017
Feb 22, 2017

Hi Halima. Thanks for letting us know what’s happening to Shamail Al-Nour. Journalists are risking their lives to tell important stories and advocate for people’s civil rights. I’m glad to see she has the support of JAHR. I will keep her in my thoughts. And please keep us updated!

Halima Rahman
Feb 22, 2017
Feb 22, 2017

Dear Anne D., 

Thank you so much for your time in reading my article and commenting! I will keep you informed about any further developments!

Hug,

Halima