Islamic Leader Defends Sudan Before US Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Islamic fundamentalist leader from Sudan argued with members of Congress on Wednesday over his country’s human rights record, treatment of women and ties to terrorists.
Hasan Abdallah al-Turabi told a House committee that his country’s military government has only a few political prisoners, treats women fairly, receives no arms from Iran and wants to live in peace with non-Muslims.
Rep. Howard Wolpe, D-Mich., said he couldn’t accept al-Turabi’s assertion that Sudan does not violate human rights. Several people in the hearing room applauded Wolpe as he left after questioning al-Turabi.
″There is an enormous tragedy in Sudan very largely due to the government this gentleman represents,″ Wolpe said. He told al-Turabi: ″Your statements are totally at variance with those of international human rights groups.″
Introduced to the House subcommittee on Africa as a key religious leader with strong political ties, al-Turabi found himself facing a flurry of accusations from committee members.
Al-Turabi denied all of them, including the committee’s assertion that, as a former foreign minister and head of Sudan’s National Islamic Front, he greatly influences the policies of Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan el-Bashir’s military junta that has ruled Sudan for three years.
″A cardinal principle of Islam is our acceptance of non-Islamic states and communities,″ al-Turabi told the committee, which is examining the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Africa.