Fighting the Enemies of God: the Rise of and the Response to Violent Extremism in Sudan
Keywords:Violent extremism, deradicalization, Pan-Islamism, Salafi-jihadism, Sudan
This article explores the rise of and the response to violent extremism, as well as the state of affairs regarding deradicalization programs in Sudan. Based on 18 interviews with policy makers, deradicalization program staff and relatives of ISIS members, it argues that the growth of violent extremism in Sudan is far from being solely an extension of the global jihad movements; rather, it is a manifestation of domestic political and historical dynamics. This article demonstrates that violent extremism is embedded in the Islamization project that was launched by the Inqāz regime—a radical, military Islamist government that seized power in 1989—and a political ideology that created the conditions for violent extremism to thrive. Furthermore, the article illustrates two Salafi-jihadist domestic groups that are committed to establishing a global Islamic state and legitimate the use of violence to achieve their political and religious goals. This article analyzes the various narratives employed by the regime to dissociate the country from violent extremism and to portray it as a recent and foreign phenomenon. One key finding of this paper is that deradicalization in Sudan is practiced in the context where the regime attempts to balance between two contradicting interests: it tries to remove Sudan from the US government list of state sponsors of terrorism, on one hand, and to maintain the regime’s questioned local Islamic legitimacy, on the other hand.
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