March 25, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir today warned that his government will have zero tolerance for those who drink or deal in alcoholic drinks saying they will be whipped under the Islamic Sharia’a laws.
"Anybody who drinks alcohol, we lash them. Anybody who makes alcohol, we lash them. Anybody who sells alcohol, we lash them. I don’t care about the UN or human rights organizations," Bashir told a gathering of Sufi sect in the capital’s suburb of Um Dawaban.
North Sudan is currently ruled under Islamic law which prohibits drinking among other things even though a local homemade brand of alcohol is widely consumed privately. During most of Sudan’s post independence history drinking was socially acceptable.
In 1976 late president Jaafar Nimeiri ordered his ministers and legislators either to give up alcoholic drinks or resign in a letter he also addressed to university professors, senior army officers, ambassador and media figures. Nimeiri himself was also known to be a drinker.
Rights groups have complained about lashing sentences handed out against women caught brewing alcohol in Khartoum, many of them from the non-Muslim south.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between Sudan’s predominantly Muslim north and the largely Christian and animist south makes special provision for Christians in the semi-autonomous south.
Last year the Nigerian football striker Stephen Worgu, who played for Sudan’s premier league Al-Merreikh club, was sentenced to 40 lashes for drinking alcohol though it is not clear if the sentence was carried out.
The Public Order Police (POP), responsible for enforcing the Islamic law, crackdown on breaches of laws relating to decency and maintaining the peace came into the spotlight after last year’s high-profile conviction of Sudanese U.N. official Lubna Hussein, who was briefly jailed for wearing trousers in public.
Also in the same year a Christian Southern Sudanese teenager Silva Kashif was arrested while walking to the market near her home in the Khartoum suburb of Kalatla.
Her mother Jenty Doro told Reuters that Khashif was taken to Kalatla court where she was convicted and punished by a female police officer in front of the judge.
Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) a commission for the rights of Non-Muslims in the capital is tasked with defending the interests of Southerners living in the capital governed by Islamic Shari’a law.
However, observers say that the commission has been ineffective in carrying out its mandate.
Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) has called on the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to abolish Islamic law in order to preserve the country’s unity but were turned down.