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Mistaken identity?: Sudan activists urge release of Palestinian preacher detained for 'attending' Khartoum protest Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Mistaken identity?: Sudan activists urge release of Palestinian preacher detained for 'attending' Khartoum protest

Al-Hasanat was detained by Sudanese authorities in Khartoum [Twitter]

Date of publication: 26 July, 2020

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Activists say an image purportedly showing Palestinian preacher Mahmoud al-Hasanat at a pro-Bashir protest was not actually him, as calls for his release increase.
A prominent Palestinian preacher was arrested by authorities in Sudan on Saturday, according to local reports, though activists have rejected images that purportedly showed him at a march.

Mahmoud al-Hasanat, a Gazan that has been living in Sudan for some two years, was detained and interrogated for his alleged participation in a demonstration Friday that had called for the return of the formerly ousted Omar al-Bashir regime, authorities claimed.

Images that surfaced online showed a preacher at the march, though activists online have debunked those as a case of mistaken identity.

Sudan's ministry of interior, which released an image of the Palestinian in police custody, said he was among five foreigners that were arrested for attending the protests in Khartoum. The image released by the ministry and those from the protest clearly show two different men.

Local news publications said two men, said to be from Yemen, as well as another two alleged Indonesian men, were also rounded up by authorities.

"Legal measures have been taken to confront them [the group]. We call on the honourable citizens to report everything that threatens security," a statement said, noting it was a national responsibility to do so.

The arrests have sparked controversy and both Sudanese and Palestinian activists have called for their release, especially the preacher, who they say has not voiced personal political opinions of the developments in Sudan since Bashir was ousted.

Al-Hasanat has garnered a large following online, where he shares videos to more than 2.6 million subscribers on YouTube and other social media platforms.

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir stayed in power for 30 years before being overthrown on April 11 last year after several months of youth-led street demonstrations.

Bashir went on trial on Tuesday over the military coup that brought him to power more than three decades ago. 

Bashir, 76, could face the death penalty if convicted over the 1989 Islamist-backed overthrow of the democratically elected government of prime minister Sadek al-Mahdi.

The Khartoum trial comes as Sudan's post-revolution transitional government has launched a series of reforms in hopes of fully rejoining the international community. 

Sudan has also pledged to hand over Bashir to the International Criminal Court to face trial on charges of war crimes and genocide in the Darfur conflict, which left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million in a scorched earth campaign against a 2003 insurgency.

Also in the dock were Bashir's former vice presidents Ali Osman Taha and Bakri Hassan Saleh and several of his former ministers and governors.

They are accused of having plotted the June 30, 1989 coup in which the army arrested Sudan's political leaders, suspended parliament, closed the airport and announced the putsch on the radio.

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