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Sudan regrets its inclusion in U.S. list for religious freedom violations

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Sudanese worshippers outside Soba Al Aradi church after its demolishment on Sunday 7 May 2017 (ST Photo)

January 7, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government Sunday has expressed “deep regret” over Washington’s decision to include Sudan on the list of countries of particular concern regarding religious freedoms.

The U.S. Secretary of State annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as “Countries of Particular Concern”.

“Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern on December 22, 2017” said the U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert in a press statement on Friday

In a press release on Sunday, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir said the U.S. announcement is inconsistent with the praise received by Sudan from many symbols and leaders of the world religious institutions.

“Most notably the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as the Commissioner of Religious Freedom in the European Union and the U.S. Congress delegation [which visited Sudan]” read the press release

The spokesman also pointed to the visit of the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Ian Turner, and the head of the Ethiopian Church, who visited the church of the Ethiopian community in Sudan and praised the level of security, freedom and respect for the rights of Christians in Sudan.

He added the reception of these religious delegations underscores Sudan’s confidence which emanates from an extended history of coexistence and tolerance among various religions and races.

Khidir pointed out that Sudan allows large freedoms to its citizens, foreign residents and refugees to practice their religious rights and rituals through 844 churches which manage 319 educational institutions and 173 cultural and health centres.

He called on the U.S. Department of State to review “it’s negative statement and deal fairly with this country which hosts millions of refugees without asking anyone of them about his religion and who practice their religious rituals freely.

The Foreign Ministry further underlined readiness to continue discussions with the U.S. on this issue in order to clarify the reality of Sudan’s distinctive regional and international experience in this regard.

Last October, Washington permanently cancelled the 20-year economic sanctions on Sudan opening the door for the normalization of bilateral relation and removal of remaining sanctions on the east African country particularly its removal from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

Sudanese officials insist on the need to remove Sudan from the list of terror states, pointing that the country cannot benefit from the debt relief and international development aid without this measure.

But Washington insists on the need to improve Human rights, religious freedom and other freedoms in a way to create a conducive environment for the opposition group to take part in the ongoing constitutional process after the signing of a peace agreement with the armed groups.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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