Home | News    Tuesday 2 March 2010

Kiir tells Muslims in the South to freely spread Islam

March 1, 2010 (JUBA) – Muslims in Southern Sudan held a conference in Juba with assurance from the top leadership of government allowing them to freely spread Islam in the semi-autonomous region.

JPEG - 7.9 kb
Salva Kiir Mayardit

The First Vice President of Sudan and President of Southern Sudan’s regional government, Salva Kiir Mayardit, told the conferees to preach and spread Islam freely as long as they separate it from politics.

Thousands of cheering members of Islamic religion, some of whom were invited from Middle Eastern countries, converged at Nyakuron Culture Center in Juba on Monday to discuss the future of Islam in Southern Sudan.

“Don’t just operate here in Juba; go to Torit, go to Yei, go to Warrap and other places,” Kiir told the conferees who responded with chanting, “Alah Akbhar” meaning God is great.

Kiir who is a frequent attendant of Kator Cathedral Church on Sundays in Juba, where he usually enlightens the congregation on political developments in the country, however warned Muslims to stick to religion and not mix it with politics when preaching, adding religion has no political party.

He also added that his government would be interested to receive the resolutions that would be passed in the conference.

Southern Sudan Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, during the same occasion congratulated the Muslims for their successful organization in Southern Sudan after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

He explained that the SPLM-ruled government took a hard decision to assist in organizing Muslims in Southern Sudan, which he said the government was first reluctant to do given the policy of separating religion from the state.

The government finally decided to help the Muslims in organizing themselves and forming the Council of Islamic Affairs under the leadership of Sheikh Tahir Biar, a southerner from Jonglei state.

Some observers however say the body was probably established with the purpose of giving Muslims a focal point that would shoulder the responsibility of their activities in the South instead of letting them loose without a controlling central structure.

Sheikh Biar on his part commended the government of Southern Sudan for its good relations with the Islamic Council as well as the freedom given to Muslims in the South.

Sheikh Biar was previously also appointed as leader of the New Sudan Council of Islamic Affairs during the liberation struggle by late Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

His group was merged with the other Islamic groups inside the government controlled towns in the South after the signing of the CPA.

(ST)