190730 Sudan
File picture shows people taking part in a protest in Khartoum, Sudan on July 18, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Cairo: Sudan has revoked a long-standing law on apostasy and a ban on non-Muslims drinking alcohol as part of a raft of dramatic reforms, more than a year after the ouster of Islamist president Omar Al Bashir.

Sudan had long come under pressure from rights advocates to scrap the apostasy law that was issued in 1991.

“There has been a danger in Sudan for years, which is to accuse others of apostasy,” Sudanese Minister Nasr Al Din Abdul-Bari said, as he elaborated on the legal changes. “No one should have the right to brand another person or a group as an infidel. This is a threat to security and society’s stability,” he told Sudanese state television.

According to the package of reforms, officially known as the Law of Diverse Amendments, non-Muslims are allowed to drink alcohol without punishment. However, a ban on Muslims’ drinking of alcohol remains in effect.

“The non-Muslim person will be punished if he cooperates with a Muslim person in dealing in and the collective drinking of alcohol,” the minister elaborated.

Other legal reforms allow women to travel with their children abroad without the husband’s consent, reversing a previous ban.

“This step is based on the principle of equality. Men are not required to get their wives’ consent. This contradicts the principle of equality and freedom of movement,” Abdul-Bari added.

The new changes will take immediate effect once they are published in the Official Gazette.

Sudanese pro-democracy campaigners long called for changing laws restricting public freedom and women’s rights enforced by the regime of Al Bashir, who ruled Sudan for nearly three decades. In April last year, the army deposed Al Bashir after months-long street protests against him.