Sudan braces for protests against law amendments with tightened security

Sudanese security authorities on Thursday closed all bridges linking the capital Khartoum, as Islamic groups continued to call for protests against recent legal amendments.

“Khartoum State’s Security Committee announces closure of the state’s bridges as of 6:00 p.m.  (Thursday) until the end of Friday,” the authorities said in a statement, urging residents of the capital to cooperate and refrain from activities across the bridges during the specified time. 

Last week, Sudan’s transitional government endorsed legal amendments that have prompted wide controversy.

The government annulled the apostasy law, repealing death penalty for those deemed to have abandoned the Islamic religion, and replaced it with an item incriminating Takfir, or the act of accusing another Muslim of apostasy or declaring another Muslim as non-believer, with a punishment amounting to 10 years in prison.

The new laws also allowed non-Muslims to manufacture and drink alcohol and permitted women to travel abroad with their children with husbands’ approval. Regarding the amendments as violating the Islamic religious law, commonly known as Sharia, many Islamists have been calling for protests, which are scheduled for yesterday.

Mohamed Ali Al-Jazouli, chairman of the State of Law and Development Party in Sudan, lashed out at the transitional government, urging the army, police and security forces to disobey the government’s orders, which pushed the authorities to arrest him on Wednesday evening.

Sudan’s Popular Congress Party, meanwhile, voiced determination to oppose the amendments and work to annul them through democratic means.

“The amendments in the criminal law relating to allowing non-Muslims to drink alcohol is considered a moral failure before it is a violation to the Islamic law,” the party said in a statement.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, for its part, said in a statement that annulling an item in the Islamic law that is established in the applicable Sudanese criminal law is serious, concerning the faith of the Muslim and the principles of their religion.

The Muslim Brotherhood further urged the government to immediately backtrack from this path.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has reiterated on his Twitter account the government’s commitment to preserve the Islamic values and respect the Islamic principles.

Since 1983, Sudan has forbidden drinking of alcohol when former President Ja’far Nimiri declared the Sharia laws in the country, which is still the first source of legislation in the country. -Xinhua

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