Dozens protest against Sudan reforms

Protesters chant slogans as they march during a demonstration along Al-Siteen Street in the Khartoum East district of Sudan’s capital on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 18 July 2020

Dozens protest against Sudan reforms

  • Protesters took to the streets of Khartoum after prayers on Friday in the east and north of the capital

KHARTOUM/AMMAN: Dozens of Sudanese protested in the capital Khartoum on Friday against recent government reforms they consider anti-Islamic, including allowing non-Muslims to drink alcohol, an AFP correspondent said.
Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari said last Saturday that Muslim-majority Sudan now “allows non-Muslims to consume alcohol on the condition it doesn’t disturb the peace and they don’t do so in public.” He also said that converting from Islam to another religion would be decriminalized.
The announcements came a day after the country criminalized female genital mutilation.
Protesters took to the streets of Khartoum after prayers on Friday in the east and north of the capital, an AFP correspondent said.
They shouted slogans including, “God’s laws shall not be replaced” and carried banners reading “No to secularism.”
“Hamdok, Khartoum is not New York,” other protesters cried, addressing Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who leads Sudan’s transitional government.
Late last month, Hamdok had pledged to announce decisions that “may have a major impact” in the country.
Security forces blocked streets in central Khartoum and bridges connecting the capital with its twin city of Omdurman, the AFP correspondent said.
Unprecedented popular protests that kicked off in Sudan in December 2018 led to the ousting of President Omar Bashir in April last year after 30 years in power and set the course for civilian rule. Extremists largely stayed on the sidelines of the nationwide demonstrations.
Under Bashir’s 30-year rule, the country adopted a more radical course of Islam, hosting Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden between 1992 and 1996.
It also imposed punishments including flogging and sent jihadist volunteers to fight in the country’s civil war with the south Sudanese.
The US blacklisted Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, in a move that decimated the country’s economy.
Sudan’s transitional government, installed under a deal between protest leaders and the generals who took charge after Bashir’s ouster, has been pursuing a string of reforms, seeking to rebuild ties with the US, boost its international standing and rescue its ailing economy. A day earlier, activists hailed Sudan’s decision to lift the death penalty and flogging as punishment for gay sex. Others criticized the relaxation of the law in conservative Sudan, where a transitional government has promised to lead the country to democracy.
“These amendments are still not enough but they’re a great first step for the transitional government that’s trying to implement changes,” Noor Sultan, founder of Bedayaa, an LGBT+ group in Egypt and Sudan, said on Thursday. “We see this as a positive change on the path to reform.”
Sudan also decided to ban female genital mutilation, which typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of girls and women, and allow women to travel with their children without a permit from a male relative, he said.
Sultan said the government was discreet about dropping the death penalty for gay sex and its amendment document did not detail what Article 148 — the sodomy law — was about.
“I think society is still reluctant to accept such changes but I hope that the government will continue in its path toward reform,” she said.
Others criticized the Justice Ministry’s reform agenda.


Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

Updated 20 September 2020

Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

  • President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases

JEDDAH: The official coronavirus death toll in Iran surged past 24,000 on Saturday as health chiefs admitted 90 percent of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in hospital were dying.

Payam Tabarsi, head of infectious diseases at Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran, said the number of emergency room patients had jumped from 68 a day to 200 in the past week. “People are queuing to be admitted,” he said, and if the trend continued, deaths from coronavirus could reach 600 a day within weeks.

Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

Iran was slow to react to the first coronavirus cases in February, and is now battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak. Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.

Analysts both inside and outside Iran are skeptical of the official figures and believe the true level of infections and deaths is far higher. President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases.

“Today, the Health Ministry gave a worrying report,” he said on Saturday. “The public’s observance, which was 82 percent in earlier weeks, has fallen to 62 percent.”

FASTFACTS

  • Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118. •Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June. •551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. •Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’
  • Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.
  • 551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271.
  • Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia daily coronavirus case numbers have fallen to a five-month low after 551 new cases were reported on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. The death toll rose by 28 to 4,458. The last time the Kingdom recorded numbers in the 500s was April 15, when 518 cases were reported.

Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a “second wave” of the pandemic after the first outbreaks early in the year.

European countries from Denmark to Greece have announced new restrictions to curb surging infections in some of their largest cities, and Britain is considering new measures to tackle an “inevitable” second wave of COVID-19.

The UK has reported the fifth-largest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico. “We are now seeing a second wave coming in ... it is absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

England’s public health chief Yvonne Doyle said: “We’re seeing clear signs this virus is now spreading across all age groups and I am particularly worried by the increase … among older people. This could be a warning of far worse things to come.”