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Hamdok says protecting religious freedoms is key for democracy in Sudan

Hamdok speaks during the economic conference on 26 September 2020 (ST photo)
October 19, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok Monday called for safeguarding religious freedom, pointing it is critical to enable democracy to take root in Sudan.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), organized a conference on religious freedoms and peaceful coexistence, under the slogan "A Sudan for All".

Representatives of different religions and congregations in the country took part in the meeting to come out with recommendations enhancing religious freedoms in the country.

Hamdok said in his opening speech that his government is working to establish a country that can accommodate all the Sudanese.

" Religious freedom, which starts with freedom of conscience and passes through freedom of expression and freedom of thought, is the root of all human freedoms," he said

He further pointed to the diversity of Sudan’s population in term of ethnicity and culture saying that the Constitutional Conference must put in place laws that preserve this diversity.

"The peace (agreement) that we signed during the past days in Juba is a step in this direction," he said alluding the Juba agreement for peace in Sudan concluded with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) groups on 3 October.

The Prime Minister affirmed the commitment of his government, represented by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments, to implement the recommendations of the conference.

In December 2019, the U.S. State Department removed Sudan from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) on Religious Freedom, 20 years after its designation.

Since Sudan has been added to a Special Watch List (SWL) for countries where the religious freedom remains fragile but the violation does not rise to the statutory level requiring CPC designation.

In a report released on 4 September 2020, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended supporting the Sudanese Ministry of Education fund to achieve its program of comprehensive curricular reform to replace intolerant content in textbooks issued by the former regime.