Sudanese Health and Social Insurance Deputy Minister Khadija Abu El-Gassim Haj Hamed has praised Turkish contributions and efforts to build infrastructure and stability in the Eastern African country, which has been hit hard by intra-state conflicts and strife in the last decade.
In remarks to Today’s Zaman on Thursday, Hamed, who came to Turkey to attend a symposium titled “The Family in Muslim States and Societies” sponsored by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in İstanbul early in the week, stated that Turks have made great contribution to building infrastructure in Sudan by constructing roads, hospitals, schools and buildings.
The schools maintain high educational standards, the Sudanese deputy minister noted. “Turkish schools have changed the world of children and become a source of hope for orphans and poor kids. Turkish schools are doing a great job. We don’t just want Turkey to open new schools but also to found universities.” Hamed said, expressing her further expectations of Turkey.
Turkey recently has increased its humanitarian efforts in Africa either through nongovernmental organizations or through departments that are part of the Foreign Ministry or the office of the Prime Ministry. Sudan is one of the countries where Turkish NGOs operate along with institutions such as the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) to assist and help the Sudanese government to rebuild the war-torn and poverty-stricken country.
There are more than 7,000 orphans in the Darfur region, the Sudanese deputy minister said, adding that current orphanages lack the essential equipment to provide better service. Hamed said an orphanage built by Turks that has been operating since 2010 is well equipped and of high quality.
Hamed noted that the charity Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There) played a great role in the project to open the orphanage. She said when the representatives of the association first applied to the ministry asking for permission and space to establish an orphanage, their manner deeply affected her.
“It was written ‘All Muslims are brothers’ on the document they brought me [as part of the procedure]. Nobody has perceived us as brothers until today. Everybody who came to our country sought ways to exploit us [Sudan],” Hamed said. Turks kept their promise [to help] and built the orphanage, she said.
Hamed also touched upon the position of women in social and political life in African countries and in Muslim societies. She had served as the head of Muslim women’s associations in 54 African countries and claimed that Muslim women in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan have better living conditions than Muslim women in South Africa. Hamed went on to say that 25 percent of the members in the Sudanese parliament are women, while many other countries in Africa have fewer positions for women in the legislature.
Hamed said she was deeply impressed by what she saw in Turkey during her visit and argued that Muslim women in Turkey set a model for the rest of the Middle East. According to her, Muslim women in Turkey are very active in social life, and they are able to perform their religious duties along with fulfilling their responsibilities. Hamed noted that she didn’t feel like a stranger among Turkish Muslim women.
She added that Islam has been internalized by Muslim women in a country where tradition has not been overtaken by modernity, as in [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s Turkey, a Muslim country, is successfully combining Islam with modernism.