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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Sudan court jails 6 more artists for 'public nuisance'

Award-winning filmmaker Hajook Kuka was among those sentenced last week [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 September, 2020

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Nearly a dozen artists have been arrested in a case that has drawn international condemnation and raised concerns over Sudan's fledgling transition to democracy.
A Sudanese court has sentenced six artists to two months in jail for "creating a public nuisance", a lawyer said on Friday, bringing the total number convicted in the case to 11. 

Thursday's sentence, which also saw the group fined 5,000 Sudanese pounds ($90) each, comes a week after the court issued the same ruling for five other artists, including prize-winning Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka. 

In August, Kuka had said on Twitter that he and others were "attacked during a theater workshop in #khartoum by islamists instigators. The police stood by the attackers and arrested us".

Defence lawyer Othman al-Basri told AFP on Friday that the assailants had accused Kuka and his colleagues of "holding mixed-gender workshops". 

The artists were taken to a Khartoum police station, where they chanted slogans including "Freedom, peace and justice", a catchphrase of the months-long protest movement that brought down president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

"All 11 artists were then charged with creating a public nuisance and violating public safety at a police station," Basri said, adding that the defence would appeal. 

The case has drawn widespread criticism from writers, directors and others in the film community in Sudan and abroad.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body responsible for the Oscars, said on Twitter earlier this week that it "supports the efforts to release Academy member Hajooj Kuka" and those jailed with him.

Steven Markowitz, who produced Kuka's recent film "aKasha", slammed the charges against the Sudanese artists as "fake".

Sudan is undergoing a precarious political transition under a joint civilian-military government that was formed on the back of months of protests following Bashir's ouster. 

The strongman came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

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