Thinking Aloud, Thinking Allowed
Hello and welcome to my blog, The Sudanese Thinker. Thank you for dropping by. My name is Amir Ahmad, but as you may have noticed, I blog under the pen name Drima.
I’m a 24-year old Sudanese guy born at the convergence of the White and Blue Nile–the city of Khartoum. In addition to experiencing Sudan at the peak of its Islamist oppression during the 90’s, I spent my childhood in Qatar as well. Currently I live in Southeast Asia where I am pursuing a Masters in philosophy with a focus on Islam and ethics, and also researching the impact of new media on contemporary Islamic thought.
I began blogging in April 2006 after getting frustrated by the absence of young Sudanese bloggers speaking for themselves about Darfur, and so began my journey in this virtual world known as the blogosphere.
Today I blog about numerous topics including Sudan, new media, Islam, identity and wider Arab politics.
I don’t take myself too seriously so you may expect some occasional silliness proudly on display.
Why “The Sudanese Thinker”?
After discovering the blogosphere and becoming deeply fascinated by its highly raw and humanizing nature, I went through a period of profound mental change. The lies were exposed and the bitter truths revealed. My world view was turned upside down. Trust me. It was not fun.
I basically had to rethink all aspects of what I believed to be the “truth” and so… in April 2006, “The Sudanese Thinker” was born.
The “depropagandization” process painstakingly took its destined year-long course. Ridiculous conspiracy theories were discarded. Much was unlearned and relearned, and as a result new opinions formed independently. Long story short, the experience of blogging literally redefined me. I write about this intense experience in my upcoming book and memoir which you can read about here.
Thank goodness for the miracle that is the internet. There’s nothing better than free and unrestricted flow of information. Oh yeah baby!
As for the name “Drima”, I pretty much am a dreamer. The sky is the limit.
While I generally dislike adopting labels and putting myself in boxes, politically I consider myself a liberal. Of course this is not to be confused with what liberal means today in an American context because in it I’d regard myself as a classical liberal or a centrist libertarian.
Democracy: I believe in human rights and democracy for all. I also believe that a liberal Islam is compatible with democracy.
The principle of Shura is an integral aspect of Islam which if implemented properly can form the basis of a representative democracy – one which must not have a religious council at its very top with the power to strike down legislation they oppose.
In other words, secularism is the way forward, something which too many Muslims oppose thanks to their misconception of what secularism entails in the first place: the religious neutrality of the state.
Sudan: I love my country and believe in its potential. I also realize that in many ways it’s a complete disaster. I supported the Southerners’ struggle to attain their rights and was saddened by John Garang’s death. As for the Darfur catastrophe, it’s not as simple as most people think. The conflict isn’t a case of Good Vs Bad, but rather Bad Vs Worse – “bad” being the Darfurian rebel groups and “worse” – far worse – being the Sudanese government.
Africa: I’m an “Afro-optimist”. There is more to Africa than famine, civil war, disease, poverty and corruption. All these sadly do exist but there are other good aspects which hardly get any attention. A class of fast-rising enterprising Africans are making a huge positive difference and I predict we’ll witness some countries succeeding significantly in the coming two decades.
China: While I admire the rich heritage of the Chinese people, I must say I am not fond of the Chinese regime. Its increasing involvement in Africa makes me suspicious. Sure, investment is great, but the “no strings attached” manner in which China is conducting affairs is something that heavily bothers me.
China is no democracy. It’s a country with no real freedom and a place where human rights are not well respected. It is communist and against religious freedom. That does not sit well with me.
Globalization: I like and support globalization but I am not necessarily supportive of the way it has been managed so far, especially by the IMF, World Bank and WTO.
America and her foreign policy: I oppose various aspects and double standards of US foreign policy and detested the policies employed during the Bush years. “Enhanced” interrogation techniques, Guantanamo, CIA-led outsourcing of torture to the very countries the United States criticizes for human rights abuses, and the list goes on. These were some of the issues I was harshly critical of.
On the other hand, as a Sudanese, I am grateful for the positive role the Bush administration played in helping end the civil war in Sudan. Unlike Clinton who poured more fuel into an already furious fire, Bush helped extinguish the flames, something which even numerous Islamists in the Sudanese ruling party recognize.
Ultimately, I’m a fan of America, her ingenuity and her constitution. I have family and many friends there. Better still, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting America on a number of occasions and traveling to many of her great cities – Chicago, Portland (Maine), L.A., San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, D.C. and New York City.
The US-led war on terror: I supported it in principle but partially in implementation. The elimination of al-Qaeda is something I am proudly and staunchly in favor of. Many people tend to forget that it is we Muslims who are the number one victims of this heinous cancer and sickening brutality.
I supported the war in Afghanistan as I believed it to be necessary, but I am no longer sure about it.
As for the war in Iraq, I was passionately against it, but later on, given the new complex reality I began opposing a haste withdrawal, and even appreciating some of the good things the war resulted in.
Truth be told, previously Iraq had only one voice: Saddam’s. But today the media landscape is vastly different. Moreover, I think Iraq is certainly better off without Saddam. Was all the death and carnage worth it though? I think that’s a question only the Iraqis themselves can answer.
Israel and the Jewish people: Too many Muslims and Arabs get paranoid, very emotional or both whenever the topic of Israel comes up. They are anything but sensible. Trust me, I know. I used to be one.
Jews don’t have horns and tails. Throughout history, they’ve faced persecution to a miserable extent, and the notion that they’re somehow evil because of what’s being done against Palestine is hideous and inexcusable.
Nonetheless, this is not an exoneration of Israel obviously because Israel is most definitely not an angel. Historically, I believe it’s at fault. It continues to expand its illegal settlements and too often inflicts despicable collective punishment on the Palestinian people.
We however obsess about it and direct a huge amount of wasted energy towards it thanks to our corrupt leaders. They successfully manipulated us for decades into believing that the “evil Jews” are responsible for our internal ills when in fact it’s our own dictatorial regimes which clearly are.
Thank goodness the Arab uprisings, and especially the Egyptian revolution changed that to a significant extent. I believe a fundamental shift occurred because of it, and we no longer have to sacrifice our own internal issues at the Altar of Palestine. We can pay attention to Palestine for Palestine’s sake, but not lose sight of our own challenges. Still, this attitude needs to spread wider, and Israel must more actively seek peace for the sake of its own long-term security. The current paradigm is not sustainable.
I support peace through a two-states solution and hence by default recognize Israel’s right to exist side-by-side with a sovereign independent Palestinian state.
An Inevitable Closing
I obviously seek to voice my opinions using this powerful medium of communication. We are lucky to be living in an age of people-powered new media, in which I can freely express my views.
Epithets – literary eggs and tomatoes – will be thrown by the usual suspects (both Muslim and non-Muslim) like they always had been before. They are to be ignored for there is no use in giving attention to those deserving of none.
Let those of us interested in fruitful discussions talk and engage, and while we’re at it, we might actually learn a thing or two. It surely can’t be that bad.