Sudan Repeals Death Penalty for Apostasy, Amends Islamist Laws After 30 Years Under Omar al-Bashir Regime

The transitional government in Sudan passed a series of amendments that repeal the death sentence for apostasy, public flogging and female genital mutilation, giving Christians hope for the future following the toppling of the Islamist regime of President Omar al-Bashir last year.

Sudanese Minister of Justice Nasreldin Abdelbari confirmed Saturday the contents of the wide-reaching reform bill titled the Miscellaneous Amendments Act during a national television talk show.

The new amendments were initially approved in April but are just now going into effect, the BBC reports.

According to the independent Sudanese news outlet Dabanga, the amendments aim to align Sudan’s strict Islamic penal code with the 2019 Constitutional Declaration. The August 2019 document lays out how Sudan will be governed during the 39-month transitional period.

The declaration removes Islam as the primary source of law in Sudan, which has regularly been ranked as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s annual World Watch List. The Bashir regime ruled for more than 30 years before its ousting in April 2019.

According to Abdelbari, the Ministry of Justice has abolished apostasy (when Muslims leave the faith) as a capital offense, saying that such a rule exposes people to danger. Before, anyone convicted of leaving the Islamic religion in Sudan could face the death penalty.

However, Dabanga reports that the law still criminalizes apostasy, but demands that prosecutors protect those who are accused.

The new amendments also direct police and immigration authorities to allow mothers to travel abroad with their children without the written permission of the father or a male family member.

Abdelbari confirmed that the legal changes will also allow non-Muslims to drink alcohol, a custom that was forbidden under the public order laws that barred several different behaviors. The new rule, however, still prohibits Muslims from consuming alcohol.

“We want to grant non-Muslims in Sudan their freedom and rights, as stipulated in the Constitutional Declaration,” Abdelbari was quoted as saying, adding that the new amendments don’t address the sale of alcohol or opening of bars.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith