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Hamdok accused of bowing to Islamist pressure over Sudanese school curricula

January 8, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok is facing widespread criticism over his decision to freeze new school curricula that were rejected by Islamist and religious groups.

A number of Islamists known for their affiliation with the former regime, but also conservative religious groups launched a campaign against the director of the National Curriculum Center, Omer al-Qarray, who belongs to the Republican Brotherhood, a reformist Islamic group calling for the separation of religion and state.

On 6 January, Hamdok issued a decision freezing of the courses prepared by the committee as a result of a campaign by rigorists imams against the inclusion of the Creation of Adam a fresco painting by artist Michelangelo in the history course for the sixth grade of the primary school.

Therefore, the director of the Center resigned on January 7 after blaming Hamdok for bowing to Islamist pressure.

In response to these developments, the Minister of Education, Mohamed al-Amin Eltom, stated, on Friday, that he is awaiting clarifications from Prime Minister "before taking an appropriate position" regarding the latter’s decision to freeze courses approved by the National Curriculum Centre.

The minister who was not consulted by the prime minister on his decision stated he requested Hamdok to explain his decision.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hilu, in a statement issued on Friday, condemned the "complicity of the transitional government with the currents of political Islam," adding that it "reduces the chances of stability and national unity".

The SPLM-N pointed out that the prime minister consulted for a number of bodies and religious organizations without other entities,

"This behaviour confirms the continuation of the dominance of the past powers until today, and that the fundamentalist trends still play the role of guides in the formulation and design of educational policies," said the SPLM-N.

A number of activists on social media are organizing campaigns to file petitions to Hamdok, requesting him to reverse his decision.

The Sudanese Prime Minister travelled on a private trip to the United Arab Emirates to conduct routine medical examinations, according to a statement issued by his office two days ago.

(ST)