A Christian woman in Sweden has been unable to find work as a midwife since a hospital where she interned last year let her go for refusing to help perform abortions.
Hospital officials in the southern town of Eksjö had promised to extend Ellinor Grimmark’s contract until she refused to participate in abortions last summer, she said. Another hospital agreed to hire Grimmark but then reneged due to her convictions and the controversy growing over them, and no other hospital would hire her in spite of a shortage of midwives in Sweden, she said.
“They have said that because I do not perform abortions, I cannot work as midwife,” Grimmark told Morning Star News, referring to both the hospital that let her go and prospective employers. “In my contact with my employer or a prospective employer, I have talked very carefully about my inability to perform abortions based on my Christian faith, my sincere religious conviction. My employer has not been willing to discuss the issue further.”
Grimmark, a 37-year-old wife and mother who has since found work as a nurse, has filed a complaint with Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman (DO). Attorneys with human rights group Provita and religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom are helping Grimmark in a case they hope will help establish protections for freedom of conscience in Sweden.
Grimmark, of Tenhult, said she had prepared for work as a midwife with the understanding that the primary responsibility would be to help deliver babies, though she was aware that hospital work in Sweden could conflict with her convictions.
“I knew it could be a problem, but I was hoping for a supportive employer that would be willing to help me and grant me the right to freedom of conscience,” she told Morning Star News. “But unfortunately, I have encountered a very negative attitude and a direct unwillingness to resolve my case. They answered me that, ‘Someone with your opinions has no place at our clinic.’”
Sweden has no comprehensive and clear legal and policy framework regarding freedom of conscience, said Provita CEO Ruth Nordström. She noted, however, that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, formally European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms), offers protections and that they are legally binding in Sweden.
“Ellinor Grimmark is denied the right to exercise the most basic manifestation of Article 9 of the ECHR,” Nordström told Morning Star News. “Her employer has not complied with either the Swedish Discrimination Act’s prohibition against direct or indirect discrimination, or the requirement of a general obligation to cooperate with the employee ‘to achieve equal rights and opportunities in working life regardless of religious belief, and in particular to combat employment discrimination on such grounds.’”
A 2010 resolution should greatly affect how the European Court of Human Rights interprets the ECHR articles, she said.
“European case law protects religious manifestation and maintains a right to freedom of conscience, which is strengthened by the Council of Europe resolution 1763 of conscience for health care workers and the protection of freedom of conscience in health care among member states in Europe,” Nordström said.
The case has sparked debate in Sweden, where a woman may obtain an abortion for free at up to 18 weeks after conception, and in some cases 22 weeks. Asserting that legal protections of freedom of conscience would result in violations of the right to an abortion in Sweden, many fear women seeking abortions would run into a shortage of those willing to perform them.
Among those voices is that of the Swedish Association of Health Professionals, whose vice chairwoman, Pia Arndorff, told TT news agency, “As a patient in Sweden, it must be very clear what you can expect according to Swedish law. It should not depend on whom you happen to encounter.”
Sweden and Finland are said to be the only two members of the 47 Council of Europe states without well-defined freedom of conscience measures.
“In the majority of Council of Europe member states, the freedom of conscience is well regulated in national legislation,” Nordström said. “In some countries, the right to freedom of conscience is implemented in the constitution.”
Resolution 1763, which the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly adopted on Oct. 7, 2010, implies the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care, she said. It stipulates that “No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human fetus or embryo, for any reason.”
Sweden has been accused of non-compliance of several counts related to freedom of conscience before the European Council of Social Rights. In March 2013 the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe filed a complaint with the Council delineating the counts, and attorneys hope Grimmark’s case could also help bring Sweden into compliance with Council of Europe standards.
Provita’s Nordström, who also serves as president of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, said Grimmark could win a case in the European Court of Human Rights.
Grimmark said she felt hospitals in Sweden spurned her for her Christian convictions.
“I believe that life starts at conception,” she said. “I do not believe that a man may decide over life and death. I believe there is a plan for every person’s life even before birth.”
In village Chack Number 3/4L, in district Okara of Punjab, more than a dozen Muslims extremist outfitted with fire arms attacked foundation construction of a Church.
PAKISTAN: The invaders were shouting slogans “No construction of Church in our village”, “No worship places of pagan Christians.”
In village Chack Number 3/4L more than 50 Christian families came together to place foundation of Church on their land and board of Church was mounted but on March 2, 2014, at 9:00 am more than a dozen of Muslims extremists riding on a tractor trolley arrived on Church site and sabotaged Church foundation.
With tractor on which they came, the Muslim invaders pulled down the Church board on which verses of Holy Bible were written. When Christians of village came out of homes the safety of the Church foundation the Muslims invaders pulled guns on them and wounded them with sticks.
The invaders were shouting slogans “No construction of Church in our village”, “No worship places of pagan Christians” which spread panic among Christians of the village.
The Christians move toward police for help and FIR number 214/14 on happening was lodged under Section 298-A PPC in Saddar Police Station Okara against Mohammad Ghulam Ali, Mohammad Khalid, Mohammad Ghafoor, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Javed, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rashid, Mohammad Ramzan, Mohammad Alla Ditta and others.
Until latest updates, no arrests were made by Saddar Police Station Okara and offenders were walking free in village and threatening the Christian applicant of FIR.
My Heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, but as I received a comment today from a Sister in Christ that got me thinking. Since the world is focused on Ukraine, and Russia, and they are very fixated on this. Media reports that lead to believe that all that remains is the first shot. Some of the media reports indeed seem staged. I watched one popular news channel, parade pictures all evening last night of ordinary citizens of Ukraine, posing with armed soldiers like it was a summer parade or picnic. On the other hand, I saw pictures of Russian troops with priests in the background carry a large cross standard. But while we are all focused on Russia, as we should be concerned, but what is happening in Syria?
What is happening in Israel, and Iran, and Libya? Libya is a hot bed again, killing Christians, threatening Christians either convert or die. Parts of Syria have turned completely insane. There are reports coming out of Syria that ISIS, Iraq and the Levant have taken over large swaths of Christian communities and they are demanding that Christians either convert, or be killed or pay a tax of 500.00 per person. I’ve heard it called dhimmitude, I’ve heard it called Jizya. (More)
This is ‘Sharia Law’ 101. Most westerners know nothing of this practice. It’s oppressive and the penalty for not paying this tax is death or worse. Whatever it is, it’s hideous, appalling and unspeakable, that in the modern world that the west enjoys that one would think that this could actually happen. Open doors is reporting that Syrian Christians are running out of options. Mission Network News is also reporting:
Syria (MNN) — Ukraine has taken over the world’s spotlight, but developments in Syria are cause for concern: believers are running out of options. David Curry of Open Doors USA explains: “Over the past several months, Christians have increasingly been caught in the cross-fire of the battle between those that are loyal to the government and the Muslim extremists.“Some extremist groups have been quoted as saying, ‘We’ll either kill you or you’ll have to leave.’ There’s a concerted effort to put Christians in the middle of these battles because they want them to leave; they want to impose Sharia law.”
Iran continues to spew hatred about Israel and the US. World leaders have seemed recently to actually be welcoming chaos and anarchy. It’s as if they want this to re-shape the world. I asked the question on a previous post, and that was ‘Do you suppose that Christians are just collateral damage?’
Do you suppose that they know that the western world as a whole, is not informed about the plight of the Christians? Do you suppose that in their zeal to re-shape the world into a ‘New World Order’ that Christians are just insignificant?
Well in Africa, evidently chaos and anarchy has blinders. In the North Boko Haram are killing Christians and destroying villages and towns like a ravenous wolf. In the CAR the UN is calling for more UN troops on the ground to quell the violence there. They are protraying a war war between the Muslims and the Christians, with both attacking each other with what can only be described as heinous and demonic. They are still removing dozens of bodies from streets today that have been hacked to pieces or burned. (More)
Soon, the world will be enveloped in darkness and chaos. It’s in the Bible. Then you will be faced with this very choice. What will you do? What will you choose? Man or God?
Right now, choose to be informed, choose to pray for peace in these regions. Speak out to your Representatives, ask your Church leaders to speak out, and get behind those who dare to speak out, before this right is torn from us. Pray for our Brother’s and Sisters as they face this evil.
By C. Refsland VOP Advocate
Vatican City, Mar 4, 2014 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In his daily homily Pope Francis called persecution a “reality” of Christian life, challenging faithful to take up the cross and noting that we are never given more than we can handle.
“But (people say) ‘today we are better educated and these things no longer exist.’ Yes they do!” the Pope said March 4.
“And I tell you that today there are more martyrs than during the early times of the Church.”
Centering his reflections on the day’s Gospel taken from Mark – in which Peter asks Christ what the disciples will receive for following him – the Pope pointed out to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse the response of Jesus, who explained that their reward would be great, but not without persecution.
A few days after seven Copts were identified as Christians, pulled out of their homes by “unknown gunmen” and taken out and executed in Jarutha, some 20 miles west of Benghazi (see here for graphic pictures), Egyptian Copts are still being singled out and killed.
This comes after the Islamic jihadi group, Ansar al-Sharia—which appears connected to Egypt’s now ousted Muslim Brotherhood—offered a reward to any Benghazi resident who helps them round up and execute the nation’s few Christians, according to Egyptian human rights groups.
Yesterday another body was found, believed to be that of a Copt—due to the small cross tattooed on his wrist traditionally worn by Egyptian Christians, not least to identify themselves.
And the day before that, another Coptic Christian, Salama Fawzi, 24, was shot at, including in the head, while he was unloading food in front of his grocery stand in Benghazi by several “unknown gunmen”; he is currently in critical condition.
Under Col. Gaddafi, many Copts migrated to Libya looking for work opportunities. However, since the dictator was ousted—and sodomized and murdered, to gleeful laughter by Hillary Clinton—Christians have been under attack there, from the arrest, torture, and killing of Christians accused of “proselytizing,” to the bombing and burning of churches in the north African nation, evincing the true nature of the U.S-supported “Arab Spring” takeover of Libya.
Syria (MNN) — Ukraine has taken over the world’s spotlight, but developments in Syria are cause for concern: believers are running out of options. David Curry of Open Doors USA explains: “Over the past several months, Christians have increasingly been caught in the cross-fire of the battle between those that are loyal to the government and the Muslim extremists.
“Some extremist groups have been quoted as saying, ‘We’ll either kill you or you’ll have to leave.’ There’s a concerted effort to put Christians in the middle of these battles because they want them to leave; they want to impose Sharia law.”
Believers in Homs are standing firm, though: Open Doors says a small group of 28 Christians is refusing to leave the city. They feel that if they leave, there will be nothing to return to when things calm down.
“Extremists and/or government loyalists will claim a historic Christian site as a battleground…and it basically creates these situations where Christians are forced to leave their homes–historic Christian villages, historic Christian places–and maybe lose their homes, maybe never be able to come back,” explains Curry.
Last month, hundreds of Syrians were evacuated from Homs during a temporary ceasefire. At the same time, humanitarian aid and food were brought in. But it wasn’t enough, according to Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt.
“They [the UN] brought pans and cloths the people didn’t need. We need rice and food. That didn’t come in sufficiently,” he told Dutch NOS Radio 1 during the evacuation.
“There is a huge lack of food. At our breakfast, we eat olives and drink tea. In the afternoon, we make soup with what grows between the stones on the street. In the evening, we just see what we can get.”
The “starvation tactics” used by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, wherein cities are constantly shelled to prevent movement of goods and people, are taking a toll. Rebels are reportedly striking ceasefires with local governments, turning in their weapons to authorities so that food and medical aid may enter the city.
Open Doors is partnering with churches and Christian partners to help 8,000 families in Syria, including relief products.
“We provide food and water and assistance to help people survive,” explains Curry. “We want to make sure that Christians have the ability to stay and to remain in their home country.”
There’s a way for you to help, too.
“We need to have Christians in the West calling their representatives in Congress and Senate and saying, ‘Hey, will you please pay attention to what’s happening to Christians in Syria?’” says Curry.
“A lot of times, people don’t realize Christians are being targeted…but it’s becoming a big problem.”
Pray for strength and courage for the believers choosing to stay in Syria.
Tanzania- Suspected Islamic extremists bombed three church buildings on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar in February, with one of the blasts injuring several Christians, sources said.
A bomb exploded near the door of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God Zanzibar (EAGZ) church building on Feb. 23 in Kijito Upele-Fuoni, outside Zanzibar City, just before the end of the service at about 1:15 p.m., according to area Christian leader Lucian Mgaywa.
The loud explosion shook the building on the island 16 miles (25 kilometers) off the coast of Tanzania, a church member said.
“Several people had minor injuries from broken pieces of bottles and metallic objects,” the member, who requested anonymity, told Morning Star News. “The extent of the injuries has not been established. The members were only complaining of pains and were advised to seek medical attention.”
Police from Fuoni began investigating, and officers from the mainland’s Dar es Salaam arrived and collected the broken metallic and glass pieces. Liquids in some of the bottles turned out to be highly acidic, Mgaywa said.
“The gloves that the policemen wore caught fire, but no one was hurt,” he said.
The next day, Feb. 24, at about 2 p.m., another bomb exploded at the entrance of Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican church building in the historic city center known as Stone Town. Tourists often visit the site, but no one was near at the time of the explosion. Anglican officials said the bomb, detonated remotely, did no damage to the structure.
Police have arrested one person in connection with the bomb attack; his name was not released at press time.
In the Tomondo area about four kilometers away from Stone Town, a home-made bomb was thrown at the door of a Seventh-day Adventist church on Feb. 15 during a worship service at 11 a.m. Another such bomb landed at the doorway the next day at around noon. There were no reports of injuries.
A church leader reported the incidents at the Mazizini police station in Zanzibar City. Officers found pieces of broken bottles at the site.
“My church members are shaken and afraid that two bomb attacks have taken place,” said the church leader, whose name is withheld. “We need prayers.”
The head of the Zanzibar Pastors’ Fellowship, Fabian Obed, said he was very concerned about the bomb attacks.
“We urged the government to take serious measures at the series of bomb attacks targeting churches here in Zanzibar in the past few days, because worse things will follow soon if nothing is done swiftly,” Obed said.
In the tourist area of Malindi on the Zanzibar seashore, a bomb exploded near the Mercury Restaurant coast on Feb. 24, the same day the Anglican church building was bombed. The explosion, which hit at about 1 p.m. damaged the wall of the building but no injuries were reported.
The separatist group Uamsho or “Awakening,” the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation, has threatened Christians since 2012. An Islamist group fighting for full autonomy of the Zanzibar archipelago from Tanzania, Uamsho arose after Zanzibar’s primary opposition, the Civic United Front, formed a government with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in 2010.
On Sept. 13, 2013, suspected Muslim extremists threw acid on the face and chest of a Catholic priest, the Rev. Joseph Anselmo Mwangamba, as he stepped outside an Internet café on the outskirts of Zanzibar City.
Suspected Islamic extremists on Feb. 17, 2013 shot and killed the Rev. Evaristus Mushi, a 56-year-old Roman Catholic priest, in the Mtoni area outside Zanzibar City. On Dec. 25, 2012, suspected Islamic extremists shot the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, a Roman Catholic priest, through his cheeks and in the shoulder as he arrived home in Tomondo. Members of Uamsho were suspected.
While Tanzania’s population is 34.2 percent Muslim and 54 percent Christian, according to Operation World, the Zanzibar archipelago is more than 97 percent Muslim.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that mobs have looted, burned or demolished at least 20 island church buildings. CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said use of a remote device in the Anglican church bombing suggested “new levels of sophistication and planning.”
“The government of Tanzania must undertake swift investigations in order to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice,” he said in a press statement. “It is also vital for the Tanzanian government to uphold freedom of religion or belief for all its citizens, including the Christian minority in Zanzibar, in line with its international obligations under article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Now that a homeschooling family’s last judicial hope for asylum in the U.S. has been dashed, an attorney fears they will face “certain persecution” if forced to return to Germany – unless his legal firm can find another avenue to help them.
Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of a Christian family from Germany seeking asylum in the U.S. The Romeike family fled Germany in 2008 to avoid persecution for homeschooling their children.
Michael Farris, chairman of the Homeschool School Legal Defense Association, says he’s disappointed because of indications last week the justices might take up the case. He is convinced the family would be secure in their asylum in America if it weren’t for the Obama administration.
“The original asylum judge held that this was a case of religious persecution and granted them asylum,” he explains. “And if the Obama administration would have just left that alone, it would have set no precedent; it was a very low-level decision. But they decided to make a case out of it – and literally make a federal case out of it.” HSLDA is currently working with members of Congress on possible legislation that could help the Romeikes – and others like them – who are fleeing persecution.
Farris points out while the administration is sympathetic toward the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., the Romeikes are apparently the object of its scorn.
“But one family that comes here for religious freedom, which is the original freedom-based reason to come to the United States, that’s not welcome anymore,” he laments. “
I can’t read anything into it other than this is part of the overall attack on Christianity that this administration is waging.” The HSLDA chairman says if the family is deported, it’s possible German officials could immediately seize the Romeike children without the opportunity to appeal or comply with German law surrounding compulsory public education.
By Bob Kellogg One News Now
Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world? And why is their persecution occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world? (In the category on “Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion,” Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of “the world’s” Christians are actually being persecuted.)
The reason for this ubiquitous phenomenon of Muslim persecution of Christians is threefold:
Christianity is the largest religion in the world. There are Christians practically everywhere around the globe, including in much of the Muslim world. Moreover, because much of the land that Islam seized was originally Christian—including the Middle East and North Africa, the region that is today known as the “Arab world”—Muslims everywhere are still confronted with vestiges of Christianity, for example, in Syria, where many ancient churches and monasteries are currently being destroyed by al-Qaeda linked, U.S. supported “freedom fighters.” Similarly, in Egypt, where Alexandria was a major center of ancient Christianity before the 7th century Islamic invasions, there still remain at least 10 million Coptic Christians (though some put the number at much higher). Due to sheer numbers alone, then, indigenous Christians are much more visible and exposed to attack by Muslims than other religious groups throughout the Arab world. Yet as CNS News puts it, “President Obama expressed hope that the ‘Arab Spring’ would give rise to greater religious freedom in North Africa and the Middle East, which has had the world’s highest level of hostility towards religion in every year since 2007, when Pew first began measuring it. However, the study finds that these regions actually experienced the largest increase in religious hostilities in 2012.”
Christianity is a proselytizing faith that seeks to win over converts. No other major religion—including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism—except Islam itself has this missionary aspect (these faiths tend to be coterminous with their respective ethnicities: Buddhists, Asians; Judaism, Jews; Hinduism, Hindus). Thus because Christianity is the only religion that is actively confronting Muslims with the truths of its own message, not only is it the primary religion to be accused of proselytizing but, by publicly uttering teachings that contradict Muhammad’s, Christians are accused of blaspheming as well. Similarly, this proselytizing element is behind the fact that most Muslims who apostatize to other religions overwhelmingly convert to Christianity. Finally, if indigenous Christians are many in the Middle East, because that is the cradle of Christianity, in other regions with large Muslim populations, such as sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, Christian missionaries have won over millions of converts to the faith—many of whom are now targeted and persecuted according to Islam’s anti-apostasy law, which often calls for the death penalty.
Christianity is the quintessential religion of martyrdom. From its inception—beginning with Jesus followed by his disciples and the early Church—many Christians have accepted martyrdom rather than recant their faith, in ancient times at the hands of Romans, in Medieval and modern times at the hands of pious Muslims and others. Few other religions encourage their adherents to embrace death rather than recant, as captured by Christ’s own words: “But whoever denies me before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven” (Matt 10:33; see also Luke 14:33).” Conversely, Islam teaches Muslims to openly renounce their faith (taqiyya)—not just when their lives are threatened, but even as a stratagem of war—as long as they remain Muslim in their hearts. Other religions and sects also approve of dissimulation to preserve their adherents’ lives. Back in the 1800s, for instance, Samuel M. Zwemer, a Christian missionary, observed that in Iran “Bahaism enjoys taqiyya (concealment of faith) as a duty, but Christianity demands public profession; and hence in Persia it is far easier to become a Bahai than to become a Christian.”
To summarize, because of their sheer numbers around the globe, including the Muslim world, Christians are the most likely targets of Islamic intolerance; because sharing the Gospel, or “witnessing,” is a dominant element of Christianity, Christians are most likely to fall afoul of Islam’s blasphemy and proselytism laws, as even the barest pro-Christian talk is by necessity a challenge to the legitimacy of Islam; because most Muslims who apostatize to other religions convert to Christianity, it is as Christians that they suffer persecution; and because boldness in face of certain death—martyrdom, dying for the faith—is as old as Christianity itself, Christians are especially prone to defy Islam’s anti-freedom laws, whether by openly proclaiming Christianity or by refusing to recant it, and so they die for it.
Authorities try to intimidate preacher into resigning.
February 28, 2014 (Morning Star News) – Sudanese authorities arrested a pastor in Omdurman as he was preaching on Sunday (Feb. 23) and threatened that he would “face justice” unless he resigned his position, sources said.
Personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department entered the compound of Omdurman Evangelical Church and arrested the Rev. Yahya Abdelrahim Nalu as part of a government plan to take over properties of the church’s denomination, the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), the sources said. Omdurman is opposite Khartoum on the River Nile.
The Federal Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments seeks to replace Nalu, senior leader at the church and moderator of the SPEC Synod, with a government-appointed committee that favors turning SPEC properties over to the government, they said.
Authorities held him at the Central Khartoum Police Station for two days, until midnight Monday night (Feb. 24). Though the government attempt to seize church property is a civil matter, officials sent the criminal investigators to take Nalu into custody and treated the pastor as if he were a criminal, sources said.
“They arrested me in a very shameful way and threw me in the car,” Nalu, a native of South Kordofan State’s Nuba Mountains, told Morning Star News.
Authorities told him that if he did not relinquish his position to the government-appointed committee, he would “face justice” in court, sources said; it was unclear if the threat of legal action to obtain church properties included concocting a criminal charge against the pastor.
The director of church affairs in the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments declined to answer calls from Morning Star News.
SPEC owns properties in strategic places in central Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman. Through the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, the government seeks full control of SPEC assets by imposing a church leadership loyal to their policies, the sources said.
“They have arrested our pastor without due respect to us as a congregation,” one source said.
On June 25, 2013, plain-clothes police officials raided the offices of the SPEC in Omdurman in what church leaders called a bid to take over the property. Without permission from government authorities, the officers entered the church compound and chased SPEC pastors and others out of the offices, a Christian leader said.
In apparent interference in church affairs, the officers said they had sided with some church officials in an administrative dispute and therefore were ordering church leaders to leave the premises or face arrest, said the Christian leader, who requested anonymity. The government is trying to divide the leadership by becoming involved with administrative disputes within SPEC so that it can take control of the property, he said.
A government official had denied the government was trying to divide the leadership, saying the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments was not favoring one side or the other in the disputes, but admitted the government had inserted itself into church affairs.
Since April 2012, a SPEC compound in Khartoum has been subject to attempted takeovers and attacks by Islamic extremists.
Following the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, Sudan since 2012 has bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese, and on Feb. 17 it demolished another. Bulldozers accompanied by local police and personnel from the National Intelligence and Security Services destroyed the Sudanese Church of Christ building in the Ombada area of Omdurman without prior notice, sources said.
Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since secession, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians (see Morning Star News, July 12, 2013).
South Sudan’s secession has also served as a pretext for Bashir’s regime to deport Christians based on their ethnicity, sources said. In a report issued in April 2013, Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians, including many of South Sudanese origin, since December 2012. The organization also reported that systematic targeting of Nuba and other ethnic groups suggests the resurgence of an official policy of “Islamization and Arabization.”
Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and in April 2013, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the country remain on the list.
USCIRF noted the crackdown in a statement last year.
“With the independence of South Sudan, senior Sudanese government officials have called for a more comprehensive and rigid application of Sharia law in Sudan, where southerners who are Christian have been subject to a range of religious freedom violations,” USCIRF stated. “In particular, there have been credible reports of the destruction of churches, refusal to permit construction of new churches and other forms of intimidation and harassment.”
South Sudanese lost citizenship in Sudan and were ordered to leave by March 1, 2012, but thousands have been stranded in the north due to job loss, poverty, transportation limitations and ethnic and tribal conflict in South Sudan. South Sudanese Christians in Sudan have faced increased hostilities due to their ethnic origins – though thousands have little or no ties to South Sudan – as well as their faith.
By MSN Sudan Correspondent