Sudan to allow drinking alcohol for non-Muslims, ban FGM

Civilians walk past graffiti reading in Arabic "Freedom, Peace, Justice and Civilian" in the Burri district of Khartoum, Khartoum, Sudan, July 10, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 July 2020

Sudan to allow drinking alcohol for non-Muslims, ban FGM

  • Alcoholic drinks have been banned since Islamic law was introduced in 1983

KHARTOUM: Sudan will permit non-Muslims to consume alcohol and strengthen women’s rights, including banning female genital mutilation (FGM), its justice minister said late on Saturday, in a reversal of almost four decades of hard-line Islamist policies.
About 3% of Sudan’s population is non-Muslim, according to the United Nations.
Alcoholic drinks have been banned since former President Jaafar Nimeiri introduced Islamic law in 1983, throwing bottles of whisky into the Nile in the capital Khartoum.
The transition government which took over after autocrat Omar Al-Bashir was toppled last year has vowed to lead Sudan to democracy, end discrimination and make peace with rebels.
Non-Muslims will no longer be criminalized for drinking alcohol in private, Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari told state television. For Muslims, the ban will remain. Offenders are typically flogged under Islamic law.
Sudan will also decriminalize apostasy and ban FGM, a practice which typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of girls and women, he said.
Women will also no longer need a permit from male members of their families to travel with their children.
Nimeiri’s introduction of Islamic law was major catalyst for a 22-year-long war between Sudan’s Muslim north and the mainly Christian south that led in 2011 to South Sudan’s secession.
Bashir extended Islamic law after he took power in 1989.
Sudanese Christians live mainly in Khartoum and in the Nuba mountains near the South Sudan border. Some Sudanese also follow traditional African beliefs.
The transition government led by Abdalla Hamdok runs the country in an uneasy coalition with the military which helped remove Bashir after months of mass protests.


Kurdish and Turkey-backed fighters clash in Syria, 11 killed

Updated 5 min 58 sec ago

Kurdish and Turkey-backed fighters clash in Syria, 11 killed

  • Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces fighters were repelling a Turkey-backed attack
BEIRUT: Clashes between Kurdish fighters and Turkey-backed opposition gunmen in northern Syria left at least 11 fighters dead in some of the most intense fighting in weeks between the two sides, an opposition war monitor and a Kurdish spokesman said Tuesday.
Exchange of fire and shelling between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and Turkey-backed opposition gunmen who identify as the Syrian National Army have not been uncommon since Turkish troops invaded parts of northern Syria in October of last year.
The Monday night clashes near the town of Ein Issa were triggered by an attack by Turkey-backed gunmen on SDF positions, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor. The Observatory said Turkey-backed fighters lost 11 gunmen in the battle and an unknown number of SDF fighters were also killed or wounded.
An SDF spokesman who goes by the name of Mervan Qamishlo confirmed the clashes, saying that the group’s fighters were repelling a Turkey-backed attack. He did not comment on how many SDF gunmen were killed.
A spokesman for the Turkey-backed fighters did not respond to requests for comment.
Turkey says Kurdish fighters in Syria are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, that has led a decades-long insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast region and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The US-backed SDF played a major role in defeating the Daesh group in Syria that lost its last sliver of land in March last year. The SDF is holding thousands of Daesh militants in jails it runs.