19 January 2013

Sudan: Authorities Prevent Activists From Commemorating Death of Sect Leader

Khartoum — Sudanese security on Friday blocked a celebration organized by the Republicans Brotherhood sect to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the death of its leader Mahmood Mohamed Taha at the hands of the government of late president Ja'afar Mohamed Nimeiri.

Founding father of Sudan's Republican Brotherhood movement Mahmood Mohamed Taha

Taha was sentenced to death in 1985 following a quick trial on charges of apostasy. The trial is described by his supporters and many observers today as a sham. He has refused at the time to plead before the judges or contest the accusations.

The Republican Brotherhood are known for resisting Islamic fundamentalism and its leader Taha published a book on this issue a few months before Nimeiri implemented Islamic Shar'ia laws in September 1983.

On December 25, 1984 the Republican Brotherhood issued a pamphlet titled "This or the Flood" stating its opposition to September Sharia'a laws describing it as oppressing and bearing no relation to Islam.

Initially Taha was charged with inciting hate against the state but in January 7, 1985 this was amended to apostasy and was ordered to be hanged. The ruling was endorsed by Nimeiri eleven days later.

In a statement to Agence France-Presse (AFP) his daughter Asmaa who is the director of the Mahmoud Muhammad Taha Cultural Center in Sudan's twin capital city of Omdurman said that they every year they commemorate Ustaz Mahmoud "in appreciation of his stances to uphold his ideals in the face of dictatorship."

She said that a security force came to the centre in four vehicles and surrounded it preventing anyone from entering it and requested that he commemoration not take place.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that some people gathered in front of the center and refused to obey orders by security officers who closed all roads leading to the area.

The move is the latest in a series of crackdowns on pro-democracy centers in the country.

Late last month Sudanese authorities closed Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE) and the Sudanese Studies Center (SSC).

Authorities claimed that SSC is carrying out activities that seeks to overthrow the regime of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir which came to power through a bloodless coup in 1989.

But there was no explanation to reasons behind the closure of KACE.

Sudanese First VP Ali Osman Mohamed Taha suggested that these centers are receiving support from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to topple the Khartoum government.

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