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After Dictator’s Ouster, Sudan Calls On Jewish Emigres To Return

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Sudan’s new minister for religious affairs called on Jews who previously resided in the African country to return following the ouster of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir. “Sudan is pluralistic in its thought, pluralistic in its culture, in its ideologies and Islamic religious sects, and even religions. There is Islam, Christianity, and a minority that follow the Jewish faith,” Nasr-Eddin Mofarah told Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya in an interview recently. “It is possible that they [the minority] have left the country and from here we would like to call on them through their right of citizenship and nationality to come back to this country because this country, Sudan, as long as there is a civilian government, the basis of nationality is rights and obligations,” he added.
Few Jews are believed to remain in Sudan, which at its peak had a Jewish community numbering some 1,000 people. But the creation of Israel in 1948, and a series of Arab-Israeli wars, made daily life uncomfortable for many Sudanese Jews. Anti-Israel protests erupted, and rhetoric at times became anti-Semitic, bringing on suspicion, hate and intimidation. The nationalization of big businesses in the early 1970s added to doubts about their future. Feeling threatened and uncertain, most Sudanese Jews reluctantly decided to migrate to the United States, Britain, Switzerland or Israel, leaving their homes, shops, friends and wealth behind. Many Sudanese Jews had warm relations with their Sudanese Muslim and Christian neighbours. In an interview with Sudania 24 TV, Sudanese writer Haidar Al-Mukashafi said the Jewish community and Sudan was “very old” and possibly dated back 1,000 years.
The comments by Mofarah and Mukashafi came as Sudan transitions to civilian rule following nationwide protests that removed dictator al-Bashir.
In this 1950 handout photo, a Jewish wedding is held in Khartoum synagogue, Sudan. The synagogue was established in 1926 in downtown Khartoum, replacing an older small one. The synagogue was sold in 1987 after most Sudanese Jews left the country and currently is a bank.