Jewish leaders arrested in Sudan protests

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish leaders were among those arrested during a protest rally outside the Embassy of Sudan.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, the president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs umbrella body; Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center; and Fred Kramer, who directs Jewish World Watch, were among those arrested Friday.

The protest was being organized by several Jewish and human rights organizations to call on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to immediately end a blockade on food and humanitarian aid from entering the country.

The Jewish community has been active in promoting the campaign to highlight the atrocities in Sudan.  The American Jewish World Service served as a co-founder of the Save Darfur Coalition, which joined forces with the Genocide Intervention Network to form United to End Genocide.

Also arrested outside the Sudanese embassy for civil disobedience were actor George Clooney and his father, Nick; the president of United to End Genocide and former congressman Tom Andrews; Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Al Green (D-Texas), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and John Olver (D-Mass.); Martin Luther King III; NAACP President Ben Jealous; and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast.

According to a news release from the Enough Project, activist leaders were arrested after the protest continued following a request from police to leave the scene.

During his remarks at the rally, Gutow highlighted the importance of speaking out against Bashir’s actions.

“The inhumane cruelty of Omar al-Bashir’s war crimes is too much for us to abide in silence. With one hand he assaults his own people, while with the other he holds back those who would seek to help," Gutow said in a news release detailing his remarks. "I am compelled by God, by my commitment to justice and by my humanity to speak out.”

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