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South African Military Ends Controversial Ban on Hijabs

South African Military Ends Controversial Ban on Hijabs

The South African National Defence Force has ended its longstanding ban on hijabs. This follows the recent court victory of Major Fatima Isaacs who was fired for wearing a hijab.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has reportedly ended their longstanding ban on hijabs, this according to IOL. The move comes just after Major Fatima Isaacs, a Muslim woman, won her two-year court case following her dismissal from the military for wearing a hijab. Th SANDF has reportedly amended its military religious dress policy—a win for Muslim women serving in the South African military.

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The SANDFs' latest decision is certainly welcomed by Isaacs who in 2019, was ordered to removed her hijab from under her military beret but failed to obey the order due to religious beliefs. SANDF alleged that Isaacs had contravened the Military Discipline Code and subsequently charged with three counts of disobeying lawful commands or orders. Isaacs was ultimately dismissed after she had been serving as a forensic pathologist for the SANDF for a decade.

Speaking about the monumental victory, Isaacs told the BBC, "We are living in a democratic country which means that there should be no discrimination with regards to religious beliefs." She went on to add that, "I believe religion is the foundation of a moral state/country. This is an important victory."

Last week, SANDF had initially conceded to allowing Isaacs to "take a tiny piece of scarf and to cover her hair" although it could not "cover her ears or neck area," EWN reports. However, Isaacs' spokesperson, social activist Nazeema Mohamed, announced that the matter would be taken before the Equality Court by the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) which took on Isaacs' case back in 2019. The ruling of the Equality Court recently found that the SANDF's dress policy and particular prohibition of hijabs was unconstitutional.

The Muslim Judicial Council SA (MJC), which was significantly active in this case, also welcomed the decision by both the Equality Court and SANDF saying, "The MJC in its capacity as the Religious Advisory Board for Muslims in the SANDF had meaningful engagements with senior members of the SANDF Chaplaincy regarding the case of Major Fatima and was confident that the matter would be resolved amicably."

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Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.

Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.

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