Sudan protesters rally in support of detainees

The protesters chanted their campaign’s rallying cry of “freedom, peace, justice.” (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019

Sudan protesters rally in support of detainees

  • The rally was called to express solidarity with the hundreds of demonstrators who have been arrested since anti-government rallies erupted in December

KHARTOUM: Crowds of Sudanese protesters rallied on Thursday in downtown Khartoum in support of fellow demonstrators detained in the weeks of rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s iron-fisted rule, witnesses said.

The latest protest came after Al-Bashir acknowledged that Sudan’s controversial public order law and growing economic hardships had angered youths and sent them out into the streets.

The rally was called to express solidarity with the hundreds of demonstrators who have been arrested since anti-government rallies erupted in December. 

The protesters returned to the downtown area, chanting their campaign’s rallying cry of “freedom, peace, justice,” witnesses said.

For almost two weeks a security clampdown had prevented them from converging on the capital’s downtown area.

“Bring all your soldiers but today you will fall,” chanted the protesters, witnesses said, adding that riot police swiftly confronted them with tear gas.

“The authorities thought we won’t be able to reach downtown,” a demonstrator told AFP without giving his name for security reasons.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) which has led the demonstrations called Thursday’s protests specifically in support of the detainees who it says are being “tortured.”

On Wednesday, Al-Bashir acknowledged that youths, mainly women, were leading the rallies and said the public order law was “one of the reasons” for their anger.

Activists say the decades-old law targets mainly women, often accusing them of “indecent dressing and immoral behavior.”

Hefty punishments including fines and jail terms are imposed on women found guilty under the legislation.

According to some Sudanese women’s rights groups, more than 15,000 women were sentenced to flogging in 2016.

Al-Bashir, who swept to power in 1989, said the harsh economic conditions in Sudan, such as high inflation, were also driving the protests.

“It’s not only the public order law that we are against,” said Tahani, a female protester who asked not to be fully named for security concerns.

“Once we overthrow the regime, we will change the old laws completely with new laws that respect the dignity and diversity of the Sudanese people.”

Protests first erupted on Dec. 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread.

But they quickly turned into nationwide rallies against Al-Bashir’s three-decade-old rule, with protesters calling for his resignation.

Officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed in clashes with security forces.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 18 August 2019

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”