Sudanese government closes ten 'unauthorised' Islamic-themed channels

Sudanese government closes ten 'unauthorised' Islamic-themed channels
Sudan has closed down a major broadcaster for operating ten 'unauthorised' TV channels, including one run by ultraconservative preacher Abdelhayy Youssef, a staunch supporter of ousted President Omar Bashir.
2 min read
31 December, 2019
Abdelhayy Yousef heads Taybe TV. Local media accuse him of ties with extremist group [Getty]

The Sudanese government on Monday announced the closure of ten "Islamic-focused" TV channels, including one headed by the hardline Islamist cleric, Abdelhayy Youssef.

In a formal statement, the Sudanese ministry for culture and information relayed its decision to "dismantle" the major broadcaster, Alandalous Media Production and Distribution, owner of Islamic-themed Tayba TV, for operating over ten "unauthorised" TV channels.

The ministry added that the decision was made in line with the regulations of the national broadcasting authority and its 2019 constitution, which state that television and network broadcasting is a "national concern".

The mass closure encompassed channel broadcasting in a variety of regional languages, including Hausa, Swahili, Tigre and English. All aimed to communicate an "Islamic message to Africa", according to Al Jazeera's Arabic-language site. 

Taybe TV is run by prominent Islamist cleric Abdelhay Youssef, known widely for his fiery speeches and outspoken support for ousted Islamist ruler Omar Al-Bashir.

Local media reports have accused Youssef of maintaining ties with Al-Qaeda and providing financial assistance for the training of fighters of the Islamic State group in Libya.

In October, the ultraconservative preacher decried the inauguration of Sudan's first ever women's football league and the female minister for sports, Wala Essam, for her "special attention to women's sport and women's football".

Sudan adopted Sharia law in 1983, six years before Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.

In April, he was ousted by the in a palace coup following nationwide protest against his iron-fisted rule, which lasted three decade.

Read more: One year on after Bashir's downfall, Sudan's revolutionaries sleep with one eye open 

The role of Islamist parties in the protest movement was kept at a minimum, while women were at the helm.

The current ruling sovereign council, a joint civilian-military ruling body, is governing the country for a transition period of three years, amid speculation that the period will see policies of liberalisation, including measure to promote freedom of speech, women’s rights, sport and arts.

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