Home | News    Thursday 18 November 2010

Sudan’s SPLM says it is giving equal breathing space to all religious groups

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By Ngor Arol Garang

November 17, 2010 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) on Wednesday said it recognizes and gives equal breathing space to all religious sects in the semi autonomous region of south Sudan, which it has governed since a 2005 peace deal.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) allowed the south to become secular, although the SPLM dropped its demands for Islamic Sharia Law to be removed from north as well as south.

Muslims are a minority in South Sudan. Most people are Christian or hold traditional African beliefs. North Sudan ruled by the National Congress Party (NCP) is mainly Muslim, with a small Coptic minority as well as an estimated 1.5 million southerners.

Statements from some senior members of the NCP have indicated that the southern Sudanese may not be welcome in the North should the South secede in a referendum in January.

Many southerners are leaving Khartoum and heading south ahead of the referendum, which was agreed as part of the CPA.

Citizenship issues including the rights of southern Christians in northern Sudan have yet to be agreed between north and south. Under the CPA southerners living in Khartoum are given special dispensation from some laws that apply to other Sudanese but it is unclear whether this will continue after the referendum.

Earlier this year a senior Church leader said that life for Christians in the north would become harder if the south separated.

Bol Makueng, head of the SPLM Secretariat for Information, Culture and Communication in southern Sudan at the southern sector, told Sudan Tribune from the regional capital Juba that South Sudan harmoniously accommodates all faiths.
“We, in the SPLM as a national party, do not segregate on the basis of religion or traditional beliefs. This is evident in the composition of the secretariat operational both in the north and south. The same applies to south Sudan as region.”

“South Sudan as region accommodates all faiths. It is a land opened to all faiths provided that they are ready to exercise peaceful coexistence with traditional beliefs,” he explained.

The minister conveyed his greetings to Muslims worldwide especially Southern Sudanese Muslims on the occasion of Eid El Dhaya. He said it is through religious tolerance that the region will help eradicate religious hatred among the people of Africa as continent and Sudan as a country.

He said the use of religion for political achievement contributes to racial hatred and discrimination hence making it difficult to build consensus on human rights and basic freedoms, describing the national government as theocratic.

According to him, he said Eid Dhaya is always special holiday to the Muslims because it is associated with sacrifice and is about forgoing something in the belief of achieving an objective of higher value.

He is said that Sudanese who were neither Muslim nor Christian should be recognized such as Nuer prophet Ngundeng.

“They are our founding fathers of this nation that will be born on 9th January 2011,” said Makueng.

The minister said that south Sudan’s first civil war from 1955 to 1972 had also attracted Muslim’s to fight with the south against various Khartoum governments.

“These were true Africans who believed that God is everywhere in the world and all people are children of God. Islam and Christianity that are in books, and other South Sudanese beliefs that have not been documented, but can unite people and contribute towards progress of humankind, serve us better and provides basis for political maturity and pluralism in our society,” he said.

He argued that the image and value of religion has been tarnished and deformed by the enemies of humankind in Sudan through the use of religion as a tool for political and racial marginalization and domination.

The use of religion as tool for political and racial marginalization and domination by individuals has been the most toxic political odor that has suffocated unity of the country beyond recovery, he claimed.

This week , the people of Southern Sudan started registering to vote in January on whether the south will separate from the north.

(ST)

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  • 18 November 2010 08:14, by visitor

    What does Bol Makueng know about religion and God? Nothing, by the sound of it.

    repondre message

    • 19 November 2010 09:40, by Sudani Logik

      It sounds to me like you’re the one who don’t know what you’re talkin about Mr Visitor!!

      You’re either a religous bigot or none religous period and have little regard for humanity on equal basis irrespective of religous beliefs. Your likes are exactly the problem with the old Sudan.

      Some may not have the same religous beliefs as Mr Makueng but many would totaly agree with his analysis of the mis-use of religion in the Old Sudan and would respect his call for tolerance of all religions to safe guard the most basic of human rights.

      repondre message

      • 19 November 2010 11:51, by visitor

        I would ask you, Mr Logic, what you would do about a religion which has no concept of "human rights", a religion which wants only "submission" from its adherents, which mandates slavery and the suppression of free speech and despises black people? What do you do? Say this religion should have free expression? Then you can kiss goodbye to the idea of a free south Sudan or even a free north Sudan.
        But only a "bigot" could want freedom from a bigoted and intolerant "religion", I suppose.
        It is amazing how people who believe in freedom are called "bigots" these days, even in the Sudan!

        repondre message

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