Sudan shuts TEDx community forum: founder

AFP , Saturday 11 May 2013

Sudanese authorities shut down TEDx Sudan during an event attended by 1000 people, even though it was non-political


Sudan's security service on Saturday ordered the closure of a community forum, one of the independently run TEDx events held around the world, even though it was non-political, the organiser said.

"They unplugged the electricity," Anwar Dafa-Alla, who founded Sudan's version of TEDx two years ago, told AFP.

He said almost 1,000 people were attending the event at a luxury Khartoum hotel when officials stopped it before it was even half finished.

"We were only focused on the positive," he said. "We don't do politics."

According to the TEDx website, all TEDx events are organised independently on a community basis to "stimulate dialogue." All of the gatherings have certain common features, including "lack of any commercial, religious or political agenda", it said.

The New York-based TED is a non-profit agency "devoted to ideas worth spreading," the website says. TED holds two major conferences a year and offers the $1-million TED prize.

Dafa-Alla said he has organised 10 similar forums in Sudan but this was the first to feature international speakers, themed: "Knowledge into action."

He did not know why the event was stopped but "they mentioned something about the live-streaming", a video broadcast of the forum to universities.

Sudanese rights and cultural groups said earlier this year they were under attack after some non-governmental organisations were ordered to close.

The state minister of information and culture, Mustafa Tirab, told AFP in an interview on Thursday that the government "will do our level best to provide freedom of expression and freedom of speech for all those who are inside Sudan".

Sudan ranks near the bottom, at 170 out of 179, in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2013 World Press Freedom Index.

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