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APRIL, 5th, 2020

It is with a deep sense of sorrow that the leadership of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM/A-AW) extends its heartfelt condolences to the French nation in the wake of the tragic terrorist assault witnessed in south-east France in the town of Romans-sur-Isere that took the lives of two innocent civilians and left others wounded.  It pains us deeply that the knife wielding attacker has been identified as a Sudanese refugee resident in the town. It is incomprehensible to us that a Sudanese granted sanctuary and safety in France should lash out lethally against his very same benefactors and neighbors. That the killing took place when France as the rest of the world endures the hardship, great fatalities, upheaval and fear imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, makes the incident all the more horrifying, when the French people have sufficient trauma and tragedy to contend with.

We understand that the attacker and another potential suspect are being held in custody by the French authorities and the SLM fully supports the French state in its ongoing efforts to carry out a thorough investigation and hold those responsible fully accountable before French law and the judicial proceedings to come.

We cannot know at present what motivated the suspect to carry out the attack, nor his mental or emotional state, that however was clearly disturbed, and if there was also an ideological motivation rooted in Salafi Islamist extremism, as is now a credible working theory by investigators. Whether the attack was prompted by mental illness or belief in radical Islam or both, where radical Islam itself can by itself be considered as a mental and spiritual malady, alongside all forms of violent extremism across cultures, we do not split hairs over the result that was clearly an atrocity, where terror is only ever recognized as terror and cannot be mistaken for anything else. Nihilist violence has no place in any civilized society.

It would constitute a moral self-betrayal for the SLM to remain silent on this subject, when our own long struggle in Sudan for secular democracy, precisely against a hardline Islamist and racist  ideology that unleashed  a genocide in Darfur and numerous other crimes against humanity across Sudan, is not indifferent to the meaning of terror.

Our own suffering means we cannot be indifferent to your own. Thus we will not look away and be guilty of gross hypocrisy because the SLM owes a great debt to both the French state and the French people as a whole, and it is exactly a debt of friendship and fraternity. When so many of the great powers long turned away from the plight of Darfur or have sought to manipulate the Sudanese debacle for their own geopolitical self-interest regardless of the consequences for the Sudanese people, Sudan and the SLM has only ever had one consistent true friend on the world stage, France, that has further altruistically long provided safe haven on French soil for the SLM. For this great gesture and incomparable help we cannot express our gratitude to the French nation and its generous people sufficiently. In this process of forming our fraternal bonds with you we have learned to love your culture and admire your history.

France since its own glorious revolution of 1789 that is the founding seed of so many democracies globally, has ever also been one of our great inspirations in our own freedom struggle, as are all the courageous Maquisards in the French Resistance and all the Free French soldiers of  La France Combatante that kept French honor and the promise of freedom alive during Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

Because of historical memory noting that until well into 1944 the bulk of the fighting strength of the Free French Forces was composed of Muslim soldiers from then French North Africa and West Africa, alongside non-Muslim volunteers from French Polynesia and many refugees to include numerous Spanish Republicans in the ranks of the immortal French Foreign Legion and other formations like the famed  9th Company of the Regiment de Marche du Tchad, just as the Grand Mosque in Paris was also an active center of resistance and part of the underground railroad network that saved Jews from Vichy and Nazism. We also remember that the most decorated military unit in French service during the Great War of ‪1914-1918 was a regiment of valorous Algerian Tiralleurs.

We make these observations not to teach you your own history, when you are its truest guardians, but instead to stand beside you to uphold the principles of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality in your own vibrant multicultural society, should the dreadful events seen in Romans-sur-Isere prompt a blind backlash from the minority of ultra-ethno-nationalists and chauvinist French extremists against Sudanese refugees and the bulk of peace abiding and loyal French citizens of Muslim origin. But we are secure that the French state presiding over one of the most culturally vibrant nations on earth, crowned by the cosmopolitan jewel of Paris, has never recognized us as a monolith fully aware that the SLM and most of the Sudanese exile and refugee population is composed primarily of Sufi adherents, the most progressive, ecumenical and tolerant branch of Islam in harmony with Christians and Jews and all other faiths, as there are also Christians and animists among us and many purely secular individuals. We too are persecuted by radical Islamists and we will never tolerate extremism in any form from any tradition or culture and it is a day of mourning for us as well that one of our own chose the dark side and may have likely embraced the murderous urges of Salafism to shed blood on your shores.

So we will stand shoulder to shoulder with France against all such extremism, as your guests in your own beautiful country, in Sudan and in the continent of Africa full stop, where we look forward to cementing our brotherly ties all the more in a strategic partnership when democracy is truly achieved in Sudan. As Africans we are also grateful how France has stood in the forefront to stem the tide of Salafism in the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa, though it is a great burden for you and you deserve more help. As believers in democracy we are also admiring of how the French government is firmly standing against the tidal wave of the resurgent far right sweeping over much of Europe.

Salafist terror and occidental ultra-nationalism are two faces of the same pathology and it is heartening France will stand firm to uphold the values of civilization. Thus once more we offer to all of the French people our sincere empathy, solidarity and sense of shock that you recently endured another instance of barbarism you did not merit, in an already such fragile page turning for all humanity. May France endure and overcome the scourge of both terrorism and the COVID-19 pestilence, with her head held high and her values intact and remain a shining example of noble conduct for all the world to emulate. Vive La France!

Sincerely, Abdul Wahid al Nur, Chairman Sudan Liberation Movement and Commander in Chief Sudan Liberation Army


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