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Sudan Islamist opposition leader Turabi dies aged 84

Hassan al-Turabi, the Sudanese opposition leader who helped bring President Omar al-Bashir to power, has died at 84 in the capital Khartoum. A hospital source told AFP news agency he had suffered a heart attack. Mr Turabi

Hassan al-Turabi, the Sudanese opposition leader who helped bring President Omar al-Bashir to power, has died at 84 in the capital Khartoum.

A hospital source told AFP news agency he had suffered a heart attack.

Mr Turabi was a key ally of Mr Bashir when he took power in a coup in 1989 but they fell out a decade later.

He was one of the most divisive figures in the country’s turbulent history, says the BBC’s former Sudan correspondent, James Copnall.

For the first decade of Mr Bashir’s rule, Mr Turabi was the de facto leader of the country, and his influence spread beyond Sudan’s borders.

His death was announced by state TV, which described him as a “well-known Islamic thinker”, and was confirmed by his party.

Karate attack

During his years of ascendancy, he promoted a radical version of Islamism, with sharia, or Islamic, law applied strictly,

Osama bin Laden accepted an invitation to live in Sudan, and the civil war against the largely non-Muslim southern Sudanese was intensified.

The Sudanese security services were accused of numerous human rights abuses against dissidents. Large numbers of Sudanese fled the country.

One, a Karate black belt, attacked Mr Turabi in the Canadian capital Ottawa in 1992, leaving him in a coma, but Mr Turabi survived.

In 1999, he lost a power struggle with Mr Bashir and subsequently founded an opposition party but spent much of the next decade in prison.

In March 2014, the two men had their first public meeting in years, with Mr Turabi visiting President Bashir at his guest house.

Born in Kassala in eastern Sudan, the son of a local imam, Mr Turabi moved to Khartoum to study law before completing his studies in London and Paris.

He joined Sudan’s Muslim Brotherhood and rose to national prominence in the 1964 revolution which overthrew General Ibrahim Abboud.

A widely read man with a high-pitched giggle, Mr Turabi was famous for his comprehensive – some would say rambling – interviews, our correspondent says.

Mr Turabi advocated the rights of women and democracy within Islam, and saw himself as a moderate reformer – but he presided over perhaps the most brutal period in Sudan’s history, James Copnall adds.


Review overview
  • amanuel March 5, 2016

    Sudan is cured of one of several cancerous tumors. When I say this it is because I know the Sudanese Politics and politicians more than James Copnal who had very limited information. I hope Isayas follows him soon.

    • Dan March 6, 2016

      Typical Eritrean!

    • Dan March 6, 2016

      Typical Eritrean ignorance! You guys claim to know about everything more than anyone, while your individual selves, blood-thirsty leaders and baren country are far behind the world. Walk out of your deep rooted illusion please!

  • Aman March 5, 2016

    An evil person, Thanks God. I remembered his brand of Islamic ideology trying to convert Africa by supporting islamic fundamentalist… A blessing to East Africa.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! March 5, 2016

    Dr. Turabi was highly educated fierce intellectual that influenced the
    politics in latest Sudanese history . Regardless his past reputation to
    put the country in present situation , president Beshir government are
    beneficiary on death of prominent opposition leader that challenges his
    country high rank officials .
    Even though I am not fond of his ideology or personality but I admire
    his courage not to compromise his stance with foreign powers for self
    interest .
    I like to know if he played a role on Eritrean cause issues in his
    early life in political arena .

  • Berhe Tensea March 6, 2016

    Hassan Alturabi was highly intellectual and smart person, and Sudanese politics without him will be boring.
    I really admired him when I saw him being interviewed by the CBC, and following his speeches when I was student in Sudan long time ago.

  • Zenobia March 6, 2016

    An evil man who contributed to the rise of the evil ideology of islamism in sudan and a man whose close friends included the other sicko osama bin laden. He must have been a”genius” although of an evil type because I don’t know how he managed to convince one of the most open minded and kindest people in the world that I have ever met-the sudanese-to adopt muslim brotherhood infected intolerance.

    I hate Guantanamo bay, but if there was one man who belonged there it was him.

    Do NOT rest in peace Turabi.

    An Ethiopian Muslim