Qazi Mohammed, Kurdistan Iran
Apparently a meeting has been held between Rabah Kebir, for the FIS (the Algerian “Islamic Salvation Front” ) and representatives of the Algerian and the French government. The meeting was supposedly set up at the initiative of the Sudanese government, in Holland, in 1995. The redemocratisation of the political life in Algeria was among the topics discussed but no follow-up action was taken. It seems a number of Algerian generals heard of the meeting and blocked any further dialogue.
Although there have been rumours of meetings between the Algerian regime and the Islamists somewhere in Europe, this is the first time an authorised source -- in fact, the person who initiated the contact -- has confirmed details. Where can one find further details of this scoop: in Hassan Al Turabi’s book “Islam, the world’s future”.
Hassan al Turabi, officially the speaker of the Sudanese parliament, in fact the mastermind behind a regime considered by some -- not only the USA -- as a terrorist octopus which threatens the stability of the whole of Africa, from Uganda to Eritrea, and from Egypt to Algeria. Paradoxically, this book was published in French (by Editions Lattès, Paris) although traditionnally the Sudan belongs to the British. Lattès is also better known as a publisher interested in commercial ventures that appeal to a large public, which is not the case, in France at least, for a book of dialogues on Islam.
Alain Chevalerias, the co-author, is a French journalist who spent many months with the Afghan resistance in the 1980s. He had the idea of publishing a book of conversations with an Islamist leader who was sufficiently representative to put his point convincingly, to a wide audience: “I was looking for somebody who would be authoritative and coherent enough to give a knowledge of militant Islam which wouldn’t be based on hearsay and commentaries. The Egyptian Muslim Brothers are not directly involved in politics. The Algerian islamists are somewhat at the periphery of the movement, and they are quite parochial, as are the Tunisians. The Iranians are Shia... Finally, Hassan al Turabi was the perfect choice for co-author. He claims an international role, as shown when he organised an international conference in 1995 in Khartoum; he is directly and personnally involved in government; and he drew the attention of the international media, with the Carlos affair, and publicising the plight of the Christians in Southern Sudan”...
Not so surprisingly, Hassan Al Turabi immediately endorsed the project, signing a contract with Lattès as co-author on the project. The resulting book covers myriad topics -- the status of woman, the veil, the war, minorities, politics, the state, Arabism, the world order, terrorism, Israel, Iran, Syria, in such a clear and comprehensive way that many people -- islamists or regular non-Muslim readers -- will be captivated. Chevalerias, neither accomplice nor hostile, seems to know how to raise the right question, eventually how to interrupt Turabi, and how to point out his contradictions.
One emerges from Hassan Al Turabi’s book with the idea that his version of Islam is more enlightened than that of many others. But also that Turabi never says what he thinks without formulating reservations, inwardly or outwardly. Turabi will irritate many Western readers with his conviction that he always knows better, whatever the subject -- linguistics, history, christianism or the social life of the Europeans.
However, the book undoubtedly provides some fascinating clues into Hassan Al Turabi personal school of islamic thought. Is he, as some of his opponents claim, a man of double language -- a moderate with the Westerners, a fanatic with his partisans? Probably not, but being both a lawyer and an islamist, Hassan al Turabi excels in the art of the casuist, a discipline the Christians neglected long ago. And readers of “Islam, the world’s future” will probably fall into the trap, selecting what they like or what they don’t in Hassan al Turabi’s manifesto...
(The Middle East magazine, January 1998)
Gilles Perrault France
Droits de Reproduction strictement réservés © Chris Kutschera 2002