Convert from Islam flees Darfur after trying to exercise right to free speech.
(Morning Star News) – A Sudanese father of two who once worked as a human rights defender now lives in a refugee camp after surviving an attempt on his life by Islamic extremists.
Before Ibrahim Ismaeil Ibrahim, 34, left Islam and dared to criticize the religion, he worked as a writer and human rights defender in Darfur Region’s state of West Darfur for the Sudan Contemporary Center for Studies and Development. As he chronicled human rights violations by Islamic extremists, he became disillusioned with the religion and put his faith in Jesus Christ, he said.
“I defected from Islam and started writing articles through my [pseudonymous] page on Facebook, in which I described Islam as a religion of terror and killing,” he said. “Then some people discovered my identity and sent me messages of intimidation on my phone that they were looking for my head. Suddenly, I was attacked.”
At his home in the West Darfur capital of Geneina in January 2013, Ibrahim, his wife and two young children were unhurt in the late-night attack by what he believes was one of the Islamic extremists threatening him.
“An unknown Islamic extremist broke into my house at midnight and opened fire on my room,” Ibrahim told Morning Star News. “I managed to flee Geneina.”
His employer contacted Front Line Defenders, an organization dedicated to assisting human rights defenders, especially those in danger; the group provided him funds for an airline ticket to Cairo, Egypt from Khartoum and accommodation for three months, he said.
From Cairo he moved to Kampala, Uganda, and eventually he went to South Sudan. There he learned from his family in Geneina that the threat to their lives was growing stronger, and he made arrangements for them to flee to Chad.
Ibrahim also learned that, with help from the government of Sudan, he was being monitored by Muslim extremists connected to those who had planned to assassinate him. He had left his ID card when he fled Geneina, and the assailants had provided it to a Sudanese government security agent, he said.
He rejoined his wife, 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in Chad. Eventually the reunited family traveled to another country in Africa, undisclosed for security reasons, where they live as refugees at a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees camp.
“Ibrahim, a brave young father, and his family have been through a hard time and suffering as they become refugees away from home because of persecution by the Muslim government of Khartoum through Muslim extremists,” a Christian source told Morning Star News.
The source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, added that the Christian family is an inspiration to other refugees from Darfur, where thousands of civilians have been killed amid conflict between Arab militias battling non-Arab rebels.
“I believe the Lord will work through Ibrahim and his family, and that they will be a blessing to many of their communities and families who live with them from Darfur,” the Christian source said. “Many of our Sudanese brothers and sisters who have been victims of war and religious persecution are desperately in need of the mercy of the Father through Jesus Christ, because all that they have seen is complete agony and devastation in the Muslim world.”
Following South Sudan’s split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, the government in late 2012 began ridding the country of Christianity. It has bulldozed several church buildings, closed othersand deported South Sudanese who have live most if not all of their lives in Sudan, as well as many foreigners. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.
On June 30 bulldozers demolished the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Thiba Al Hamyida area of North Khartoum as church members watched, with security personnel threatening to arrest them if they tried to block their efforts, church members said. On Feb. 17, bulldozers accompanied by local police and security personnel destroyed the Sudanese Church of Christ building in the Ombada area of Omdurman, across the River Nile from Khartoum, without any advance notice.
Officials gave no reason for the demolition except that, as it was located in a “Muslim area,” the 300-member church was not wanted there, a church member said. Another source, a church leader, confirmed to Morning Star News that authorities destroyed the building and confiscated the land without warning. The orders came from the Ombada locality, or city council, sources said.
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).
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.
Ibrahim, the source said, deeply loves Sudan and has supported those oppressed under the regime of Bashir, especially Christians who have been tortured.
“He has dedicated himself to bringing awareness to the free world to get engaged in their plight,” he said. “Let us all keep praying for Ibrahim’s family, that their situation will get better.”