Scrap fuel hike, say hardline Sudan Islamists

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Hardline Islamic religious leaders in Sudan have joined calls by ruling party reformers for the government to scrap fuel price hikes which sparked deadly protests.

"We advise the government to turn back to God and provide justice for all Sudanese people, Muslim and non-Muslim," the unofficial group of clerics -- who often criticise the regime for straying from Islam -- said in a statement late on Saturday.

They asked the government of President Omar al-Bashir, which describes itself as Islamist, to reverse a decision which led the pump prices of petrol to almost double last Monday.

The price rise -- which followed a similar jump last year -- came as part of government measures to try to stabilise a stricken economy.

But the clerics called for solutions which would not harm ordinary people, who have endured two years of soaring prices.

They called for a conference of economic experts and asked members of the security forces not to kill their fellow Muslims.

Thirty-one prominent reformist members of the ruling National Congress Party made similar requests in a letter to Bashir which they issued on Saturday.

Bashir's regime has betrayed its Islamic foundations, they said.

Authorities say 33 people have died over the past week, but activists and international human rights groups say at least 50 have been gunned down, mostly in greater Khartoum.