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Sudan to repeal apostasy punishment

SC, TG and FFC tripartite meeting on 28 October 2019 (SUNA photo)March 9, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - A member of the leadership body of the ruling coalition in Sudan said that the Miscellaneous Amendments Bill of 2020 has removed the death penalty for apostasy in the 1991 Criminal Law and replaced it with a disposition criminalizing ex-communication.

"Whoever is guilty of apostasy is invited to repent over a period to be determined by the tribunal. If he persists in his apostasy and was not recently converted to Islam, he will be put to death," reads Article 126 of the Penal Code of 1991.

The Islamic thinker Mahmoud Mohamed Taha was executed in January 1985 for sedition and apostasy. Also, Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese was sentenced to death for apostasy in May 2014 but released in July of the same year after an international campaign.

Mohamed Hassan Arabi, a member of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) Coordination Council told Sudan Tribune, Sunday that the draft law of the Miscellaneous Amendments for 2020 repeals the apostasy punishment and replace it with a disposition criminalizing apostasy.

The legal committee at the ministry of justice believes that Islam recognizes the freedom of religion as a right for every individual, added Arabi.

“Apostasy punishment puts freedom of opinion and belief at risk and undermines social peace and stability. Apostasy punishment puts freedom of opinion and belief at risk and undermines social peace and stability,” he said.

He further expected that the draft law would be filled to the joint meeting of the Sovereign Council and government cabinet for approval, immediately after the completion of the technical procedures at the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Justice.

Islamic scholars agree that religious freedom in Islam is found on several Quranic principles such as “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Al-Baqarah, verse 256) and “Whoever so wishes, let him believe, and whoever so wishes, let him disbelieve.” (Al-Kahfi, verse 29).

(ST)