SUDAN: A CASE FOR THE REALITY OF A SUSTAINABLE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Peaceful religious coexistence and tolerance evolved in Sudan for centuries. Historically and ever since the Christian dynasties in Nubian Sudan in Nobatia, Makuria and Alawa, the country has witnesses a remarkable religious diversity and coexistence.

The advent of Islam has only brought about more spiritual insights gleaned from Islamic culture and tradition. In Sudanese peaceful and tolerant culture there is a solid convection that beneath the revelations of all world religious and faiths (Islam, Christianity and Judaism), there lies a basic unity of belief which is an approximation that man can attain to truth and ultimate reality. The adherents and worshipers of both Islam and Christianity who were and still are closely tied with their sacred traditional monotheism are more associable in sudan with coexistence and tolerance.

Sudanese people have been moulded in a context of a conduct for resiliency, tolerance and coexistence among the diversified fabric of their society. They believe in the most renowned principles of unity of mankind and mutual peaceful coexistence of different cultures and convictions. In Islam, and according to the holy Quran, human beings are the descents of common origin, all are created from a single soul. Hence, the belief in no whatsoever discrimination that is based on race, creed or clan. Worshipers of Islam in sudan as elsewhere, identify diversity as a sign of Almighty-God, which should be respected and faithfully adhered to against divisiveness and hatred-based religious and cultural disparities. The lends itself in the practical and everyday legislation and jurisdiction of Sudanese constitutions and laws ever since independence.

The recent attack and appalling accusations against the state of the religious freedoms in Sudan, spearheaded by the American state departement have astoundly failed to recognize the well-established realities of religious freedoms in the country and tended to exacerbate and extend the well-known malicious prejudices and practices against Sudan.

The disproportionate American state department evaluation tended to ill-intentionally overshadow the stark realities of the state of religious freedom in Sudan following the erroneous propaganda of some western antagonistic circles. The American accusations against sudan as engaging in or, (… tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom), is misfortunate and Sudan will strive to show itself worthy of categorically annulling and righteously discarding such unsubstantiated accusations.

We would briefly map out clarifications of the issue by generally presenting some authentic and concrete realities about the vast extent and spheres of religious freedoms in Sudan without indulging into the minutes of details.

 

As Ambassador Greeb-Allah khidir, the Spokesperson of Sudan MFA, put it, the American state department targeting of Sudan as (a country of concern), in its annual report for religious freedoms, apparently contradicts the latest positive positions of various and numerous figures that visited Sudan and applauded its religious tolerance and coexistence. Among those figures were the most reverend Archbishop of Canterbury, the EU Commissioner for religious Freedom, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and a delegation of the American congress who commended and voiced their appreciation for the safety and high-level religious freedom in Sudan. That was an obvious testimony to Sudan’s upholding to high and universal standards of religious freedom as practically catered for in sudan and sought by the US state department.

The statement of the spokesperson of sudan MFA went on to ascertain the deep-rooted religious coexistence and tolerance that lasted for thousands of years and help to make the country a universal heaven for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from different faiths and religions. Ambassadors Gareeb-Allah further pointed to the existence of more than 844 churches with 319 affiliated institutions and 173 Christian cultural and health centers in Sudan. The statement of Sudan MFA called upon the US to review its passive designation and expressed the readiness of sudan to continue appropriate dialogue and on the issue in the aim of clarifying the bare facts of the distinguished Sudanese experience that rests on the country’s Constitution which preserve and ascertain the various religious freedoms in the Sudan. That is all in the spirit and context od doubly assuring that for Sudan, (… the protections of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability and prosperity).

It is only for adamant and a biased minded person to come to deny the vast and diversified institutions, both public and private, that are entrusted with sustaining religious rights and freedoms in the country. Apart from the ministry of endowments and orientations, which is responsible for both Islamic and Christian council; Sudan council of religious coexistence; consultative council for human rights, and many other civil society organizations that deal with religious tolerance and coexistence. The ministry of endowments and orientation is responsible for coordination the activities of the Christian and other religion and convections in collaboration with similar public and private institutions and organizations. Sudan council for religious coexistence aims at administering and monitoring the inter-religion dialogue and consolidating the tolerant interconnectivity among religious leaders and societal communities. On the other hand, Sudan Council of Churches, an independent body, works freely to ensure the welfare and peaceful worship practices and all affaires of Sudanese Christians.

The strategic goal of the Sudanese state is the establishment and sustenance of social fabric, coherent and the acceptance of the other. Ever since the comprehensive peace agreement of 2005, Sudan has followed a political discourse that aimed at disseminating and advocating the culture of peace, mutual respect and religious equality.

The aforementioned principles and undertaken for religious rights and freedoms were catered for in the various constitutions and legalizations and incorporated in the comprehensive national strategy of the Sudan.

Consequently. The legal position as regards religious affairs was manifested in the different Sudanese statutes and legislations including the 2005 CPA; the 2017 Constitutions; the 1992-2000 and the subsequent Comprehensive National Strategies; the criminal code 1991 and Subsequent amended codes together with other laws and legislations.

 

The legal position as such called and stated for respect of conducting worship practices for all religions and places for prayers and publishing religious martials. Law and custom are the bases for personal legal jurisdiction and citizenship and are the basis for rights and obligations without whatsoever discrimination based on religion, race or culture. All the provisional constitution or prejudice against non-Muslims.

The 2017 Constitution states that the Republic of the Sudan is an independent sovereign country. It is a decentralized democratic country with diverse culture and languages, and incorporates in a peaceful coexistence different elements, races and religions. As to the civil rights, the Constitution states that the state of the Sudan respects all the civil rights pertaining to worship according to practices of different religions or convections and the establishment of worship cites and places for such religions. The Constitution further states other rights concerning charity and humanitarian instructions, educational publications and the like, as legal rights of different religions

This outstanding heritage is but an impelling drive to urge the Sudanese government to exert more effort in ascertaining the respect of the firm applicability and execution of the different legislations and laws in the legal system to achieve the desired goals of equality and religious freedoms in the country.

Adequately enough, the government has always restored to a concreted and appropriate mechanism to achieve such goal as represented in the various legislative councils at the center and state level. These councils are entrusted with enacting and supervising appropriate religion related laws. Christians and Muslims are both represented in these bodies.

Furthermore, the Government of Sudan is a party to all regional an international civil rights codes and conventions and is keen in advocating and advancing Islamic-Christian dialogue as manifested in major events that were hosted in Khartoum in 2009 and 2016 to that aim.

Despite the falsified and appalling accusations against religious freedoms, Sudan shall unequivocally continue to pursue the righteous and sacred mission as a springboard for upholding its heritage and tradition in equality and indiscrimination and strive hard to continue its path for reservation and protection of different religion and their adherents in sudan.

 

Ambassador Mohamed Eisa Ismail

Kiev, the 10th of January 2018