A stand at the 15th Khartoum International Book Fair in Khartoum devoted to books from and about the late Islamic reformer Mahmoud Mohamed Taha was vandalised by a bearded man acting in a frenzied manner on Monday evening.
The Republican Party, founded by Taha in the 1950's, denounced the attack in a statement on Tuesday. It filed a complaint against the assailant, who claimed to be a salafist. The attacker shouted religious slogans against the display of Taha's books at the fair.
The Republican Party is known for its resistance to Islamic fundamentalism. Taha was hanged in Khartoum in January 1985 after having been convicted of apostasy. His death was one of the events that triggered the Sudanese uprising which ousted President Jaafar Nimeiry on April 6 that year.
Minister of Culture
Feisal Mohamed Saleh, Sudan's Minister of Culture and Information, expressed his concern about the attack. He promised to provide protection for the stand about Taha and all other stands at the fair.
Saleh stressed the importance of freedom for all and said that the book fair exhibits books about all kinds of ideas, views and persuasions “without any restriction to anyone”. He called for mutual respect and a civilised intellectual dialogue.
Two years ago the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) prohibited a three day conference on Mahmoud Mohamed Taha in Khartoum.
Second Message of Islam
Taha developed what he called the “Second Message of Islam”. His theory was that the Koran contains two general, yet contradicting messages.
The Koran verses revealed to the Prophet Mohamed in Mecca take a different approach to religious freedom and equality between the sexes than the verses revealed after the Prophet had left for Medina.
According to this vision, the Mecca verses have universal value, while the Medina verses were only meant to instruct the Muslims at the time of the revelations.
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