Hate speech and extremism against non-Muslims

This article is prepared to assist practicing lawyers to do their legal job in fighting against extremism using the legal procedures against state institutions which make fatwas discriminating against non-Muslim. The article illustrates the legal procedures and the laws that the lawyers can rely on while defending victims or fighting against extremism.

In this article, I will give a background on Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Academy (IFA), addressing some of the fatwas it issues regarding hate speech and takfeer “charge of unbelief” and what issues related to the rights of minorities or sects. Further more, the article will, suggest what legal measures we can take to face such types of fatwas.

Since we have not had any practical legal experience in confronting this type of extremism, these proposals will initiate the discussion for the purpose of reaching the best legal means to confront such extremist fatwas.


We mentioned in another previous article that IFA is adopting an exclusivist orientation not only in the face of non-Muslims among Sudanese citizens, but also in the face of many of the Islamic sects, such as Sufis, Quranists, Shiites, Republicans and others. This trend represents the head of the snow hill of the fundamentalist Salafi doctrine adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood regime that ruled the Sudan for three decades before being overthrown by the popular revolution that began in December 2018. However, as we mentioned in the first article, the state’s religious institutions, such as the Islamic Fiqh Academy, the Community Refinement Authority, and the Courts of Public Order, are still working even after been abolished by law.

In this article, we will deal with one of the fatwas of IFA which contradicts all citizenship and constitutional rights and human rights instruments ratified by Sudan. The fatwa came under the title: “The Ruling on working in a law firm for non-Muslims), and it was published in the Journal of the Islamic Fiqh Academy (the issue no 6.dated 2011) and reads as follows:

(Islam determined its relationship with the People of the Book, namely the Jews and Christians, according to their stands towards Islam, and they are of three categories:

  1. First category: The enemies – these are the aggressors like the Zionists of the Jews and the Crusaders of the Christians; no true Muslim should cooperate with those groups.
  2. Second category: The hypocrites –Muslims should take caution against them, because they are more dangerous to Muslims than the enemies.
  3. Third category: Peaceful people who live with Muslims and outside the terrotery of Islam – these should be treated with kindness and argue with them for what is best. God has commanded that we should be righteousness of our parents if they are among them, and He permits Muslim men to marry such Kitabi (Christian and Jew) women.

We say to the [Muslim] lawyer who works in the office of a Christian lawyer that there is a suspicion in your work, and you have to avoid this business and safeguarded your religion and your dignity. So, you should leave work in this office. If someone wish you goodness wish him the same in this life only and don’t mention life after death or say God guides you. Be aware of direct expression of love towards these people, so that you achieve the principle of Al- wala ' wa -l- bara ' (it is a concept in Islam, literally that mean "loyalty and disavowal"). The fatwa text end here).

This is based clearly on the principle of (Al- wala ' wa -l- bara ' pillars) "loyalty and disavowal" which is considered one of the most important foundations that extremist groups rely on in their literature and consider it a direct justification for killings and slaughtering in the name of religion, and has been transmitted by Islamic scholars from the beginning of the beginning of Islamic call until now. They alienated Muslims by mention of the term which they made a sword hanging over the necks of Muslims, distorting and interpreting it according to achieve their interests or their narrow understanding of the word of God, so they legalized the seizure of blood and money .

Sheikh Mohammed Salih Al'Uthaymeen, the cleregy of the Wahhabi sect, in explaining the doctrine of  ' ( "loyalty and disavowal", says, “Al- wala ' wa -l-bara’  to Allah the Almighty means that man disavows all that is Allah disavows as the Almighty said in his Holy Book. Therefore, every believer must disavow all infidels and unbelievers. As for The apostate infidels, if advised to return to Islam and they refuse the invitation, they must be abandoned and avoided and we must not sit or eat with them, because the apostate shall not be asked to confess his apostasy but will be called to return to Islam, if he does not return, he must be killed. If they die in their apostasy they shall not be washed nor shrouded nor prayed for them nor buried with Muslims, but rather their body should be thrown with the clothes and abominations of blood in a pit far from the Islamic cemeteries in a place that is not owned or inhibited by anybody. As for the infidels who are not apostates, they have the right of kinship if they are related, as the Almighty said: {And give the relatives their right}, and He said about the unbelievers infidel parents: {And if they strife to make you join for worship with me things of which  you has no knowledge obey them not; yet bear them company in this life, with justice and consideration and follow the way to who turn to Me }.

Consequently, it is clear that the doctrine of Al- wala ' wa -l- bara ' ( "loyalty and disavowal") contradicts the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the Constitutional Document and international human rights instruments ratified by Sudan. Moreover, this fatwa shows the inconsistency of the state’s approach with the existing Constitution in the country and Sudan’s international obligations, as it confirms what we stated in the first article and the present article that IFA adopts the Salafi Wahhabi approach which is based on exclusion and extremism.

Returning to the topic of the fatwa, which is the forbidding of the Muslim’s work in a Christian lawyer’s office, we find that it clearly contradicts the laws in Sudan in this regard. The Advocacy Act of 1983 did not set Islam as a condition for obtaining a license to practice the profession of law, as practical experience demonstrated that a large number of Christian lawyers worked in the field of law and were on the top of the pyramid in terms of experience and competence and were widely acknowledged and respected by the society. As for working in a Christian lawyer’s office, the law did not set Islam as a condition for working in another lawyer’s office.

On the other hand, Islam is also not a condition for work in the judiciary or the Ministry of Justice, and although in practice it has proven that the defunct Muslim Brotherhood regime has created obstacles to the appointment of non-Muslims, the practical reality also proves that a large number of non-Muslim jurists have filled and are still filling the posts of judges and legal advisors in the Ministry of Justice, and some of them have even held, senior positions  such as the Public Prosecutor, Attorney General, and judges in the Constitutional Court (some of them are still there).

Thus, it turns out that this fatwa is not in line with the laws that regulate the legal professions and also from the reality of practical experience, but instead it is a step by which the theocratic state system wanted to restrict the non-Muslims in Sudan, as it did in other similar cases such as the expropriation of lands and places of worship and the arrest of personalities active in the field of religious freedom besides other methods of harassment, then it gives the authority  a religious cover to the discriminately practise against non-Muslim however the question arises about the impact of this fatwa and to what extent the lawyers abide with.

Legal procedures

It is clear from what we mentioned earlier that this fatwa has no legal effect because the Islamic Fiqh Academy founding Law of 1998 did not grant the council such jurisdiction. This fatwa, undoubtedly, represents provocative intolerance intended to demean the non-Muslims and diminish their rights to live in peace with equal rights based on citizenship and not religion. Undoubtedly, it falls under the penalty of Article (125) (1) of the Penal Code of 1991 which reads as follows: “Whoever, by any means, publicly abuses or insult any religion or its beliefs or sacred symbols or seeks to excite contempt or scorn against its followers shall be punished by imprisonment for a term which may not exceed six months, or with fine, or with flogging which may not exceed forty lashes”. The text of this fatwa inevitably involves exciting a feeling of contempt or humiliation among the Non-Muslims.

So the pillars of this crime are complete and put IFA as an institution and the individuals who issued the fatwa under criminal accountability. As we mentioned in the first article, the third article of the Penal Code of 1991 defines the word "person" as including the natural person and every company, association or group of people, whether or not they have a legal personality . However, there will be a procedural obstacle regarding the facts of this specific fatwa, is the obstacle the statute of limitations, because a long period of time had elapsed since the fatwa was issued so it is no longer possible to commence criminal proceedings in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1991. Therefore, we recommend that attention must be paid to this issue in the event of any other similar fatwa, However, the Miscellaneous Amendments Law of 2020, made an important change to the text of Article 38 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1991, which excluded crimes of a continuing nature from the statute of limitations for criminal cases, thus opening the way for confronting such fatwas.


However, we believe that this matter can be raised before the Constitutional Court because it involves violating many of the constitutional rights stipulated in the Constitutional Document. Article 44 of the Constitutional Document stipulates that citizenship is the basis of equal rights, Article 47 stipulates non-discrimination on the grounds of religion and others, and Article 55 provides for freedom of belief and worship. Moreover, the second paragraph of Article (41) states that all rights and freedoms included in international and regional agreements, covenants and treaties on human rights ratified by the Republic of Sudan are considered an integral part of this document. Hence, all rights stipulated in these charters can be mentioned. Article (6) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that: “The states parties to the Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of every person to have the opportunity to earn his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and takes measures appropriate steps to safeguard this right.” Certainly, the fatwa mentioned above includes an invitation to restrict the right to work for a Muslim lawyer who wishes to work with a non-Muslim or a non-Muslim lawyer who wishes to run his business through the use of other lawyers. We refer here to the text of Article (2/2) of the same covenant which reads: “The States Parties to the covenant undertake to ensure that the exercise of the rights stipulated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind on as to race, color, sex, or language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.”

The lawsuit to safeguard the constitutional right will be based on the violation of IFA of all the rights mentioned above, through the issuance of this fatwa. In this case, it is not necessary to exhaust certain grievance ways, but a constitutional lawsuit can be brought directly. The petition for the Constitutional Court to issue a report verdict is that this fatwa violates the constitutional rights referred to above and obliges IFA to retract this fatwa and retaining the right to take any criminal action or request compensation for damage before civil courts.