JEDDAH: Members of Sudan’s Jewish community who had left the country in previous years were free to return and “enjoy citizenship” like other ethnic groups, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr-Eddin Mofarah said on Friday.
Speaking to Al Arabiya TV, the newly appointed minister said Sudan was welcoming of diverse ideas, values, cultures and “intellectual persuasions.”
He even added that the Muslim-majority country was welcoming of other religions, citing the number of Christians and Jews who still lived in the country and those who might have left.
“I urge them (Jews) from this platform to return to Sudan and recover their right to naturalization and citizenship because Sudan is a civil state where citizenship is the source of all rights and duties. We also have other religions and faiths embraced by different people,” he said.
The announcement came after Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his Cabinet on Thursday, the first since former President Omar Bashir was ousted in April.
The Cabinet includes Asmaa Abdalla, Sudan’s first woman foreign minister, and a former World Bank economist. Hamdok also picked women to lead the Sports and Youth Ministry, the High Education Ministry, and the Labor and Social Development Ministry.
The new Cabinet has come about as part of a power-sharing agreement between the military and pro-democracy demonstrators, following pressure from the US and its Arab allies amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite a new civil war.
Mofarah said Islam had been a peaceful part of Sudanese life for centuries, and had not been introduced through violence or conflict.
He also stressed the importance of religious tolerance in the post-Bashir era.
“Religious tolerance has also been given a significant importance in the Holy Qur’an, in which Muslims have been urged to accept and respect other religions and live in peace with them,” Mofarah said.
“This constitutes a clear call for the Sudanese to live according to the saying ‘you have your religion and I have mine,’ as long as there is no infighting, sedition or wars and as long as people interact,” the minister added.
“The issue of peace, tolerance, loyalty and resilience is one of the indicators that will allow us to build this nation on new foundations, centered around freedom, justice, equality and noble moral values,” he said.
Sudan’s power-sharing deal calls for the government to reach a peace agreement with the rebels within six months.