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Turabi, Hasan al-

Source:
The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Turabi, Hasan al-

    1932 – Sudanese Islamist and political leader

    Hasan al-Turabi has been a key figure in political and religious life in Sudan since 1964 . Born in central Sudan to a devout Muslim family, al-Turabi studied law at Khartoum University, where he became a member of Sudan's Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Turabi later studied overseas at the University of London and at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1964 he returned to Sudan and became a leading figure in the brotherhood. The group founded the Islamic Charter Front (ICF), a small but vocal political party that called for an Islamic constitution in Sudan.

    In 1969 Jafar Nimeiri seized power in a military coup. The new leader dissolved the ICF and arrested several of its members, including al-Turabi. Eight years later, however, Nimeiri reversed course and joined forces with the Muslim Brotherhood. He made al-Turabi his attorney general and several other members of the brotherhood gained important government posts. In 1983 Nimeiri made the shari'ah the supreme law of Sudan. Many believe that al-Turabi influenced this decision.

    A popular revolt ended Nimeiri's regime in 1985 , and Sudan held elections the following year. Al-Turabi's party, which had changed its name to the National Islamic Front (NIF), finished third. Nevertheless, it was clearly a rising force in Sudanese politics. In 1989 the NIF backed a successful coup by General Umar al-Bashir , who reinforced Islamic rule in Sudan. Al-Turabi became a major force in the al-Bashir regime. NIF and Muslim Brotherhood members dominated the government, civil service, and economy. Beginning in 1999 , however, al-Bashir removed al-Turabi from his government posts. In 2001 he imprisoned al-Turabi, charging him with undermining the state.

    In his writings, al-Turabi advanced certain liberal ideas, such as democracy and pluralism. In practice, however, he enforced harsh rule in Sudan. To build Islamist power, he created an NIF police state that committed many abuses of human rights. He repressed political opponents through torture, execution, and imprisonment. Al-Turabi has also encouraged the rise of militant Islam in neighboring countries. See also Muslim Brotherhood; Sudan.

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