South Asia and Beyond

Sudan: Religious Freedom Coming?

Thirty eight years after Islamic law or Sharia was imposed on Sudan by then president Omar al-Bashir (deposed in a coup in 2019), the government of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has committed to freedom of worship and the separation of state and religion. This came after the government signed an accord with a rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North, which has long demanded an end to Sharia law and a secular state in Sudan.

The Declaration of Principles signed on Sunday in Juba, the capital, paves the way for talks on a final binding peace accord ending decades of conflict. Gen. Burhan’s government has signed peace agreements with many other rebel groups including those in Darfur, in western Sudan.

Sudan’s army has backed Islamist groups for decades and there were serious doubts if it was prepared to change course. But the declaration clearly states that “no religion should be imposed on anyone and the state shall not adopt official religion.”

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