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Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in Sudan

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, June 30, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Sudan: Population: 44.5 million, Christians 1.2 million

January 19, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan Commander in Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces Wednesday tasked ministerial undersecretaries with the duties of ministers within the framework of a caretaker government. Al-Burhan tasked the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers Osman Hussein with the duties of the Prime Minister. These decision aims to prepare for holding elections in the country, said the official agency

[ Former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok resigned on January 2, after his failure to stop the bloody repression of protesters and to form a new cabinet.]

Despite Sudan making positive strides towards religious freedom in recent years, persecution of Christians remains at a high level in the country, and there are fears this will worsen following the military coup in October 2021.

The seizure of power occurred following an escalation in hostilities between conservative Islamists who want a military government and those who toppled Omar al Bashir in April 2019. The overthrow of al Bashir resulted in a transitional government, with power shared between the military and civilian leaders. During this time, the significant steps towards religious freedom included abolishing the death penalty for leaving Islam. However, these are now under threat following the coup. 

Even without the coup, social attitudes towards Christians have not changed, despite the positive steps made under the transitional government. This is especially the case in areas outside the capital Khartoum. Christians are still vulnerable to extreme persecution in public and private life, particularly if they have converted from Islam, and the government hasn’t put real protections in place for Christians and other religious minorities. For example, even with the change in official status, confiscated churches and lands have yet to be returned to their Christian owners, and trying to build new churches is still extremely difficult.

Christian women and girls in Sudan, particularly converts, are vulnerable to rape, forced marriage and domestic violence for their faith. On a broader level, Islamic extremists have reportedly kidnapped Sudanese girls for marriage and/or sexual slavery. Inside the home, converts may also be isolated to reduce the embarrassment and shame of the conversion on the family, as well as to ensure they cannot meet with other Christians. Converts will also be denied inheritance and, if they’re already married, divorced from their husbands. 

Church leaders are frequently targeted, including reports of drugs being falsely planted on them. Christian men and boys, particularly converts, are vulnerable to beatings, imprisonment or even murder. Converts may be kicked out of their house and shunned by their families, and face intense persecution in the workplace. 

07/06/2021 Sudan (International Christian Concern) –According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Boutros Badawi, a Christian activist and advisor to Sudan’s Minister of Religious Affairs, was attacked last week in the capital of Sudan.

“One assailant pointed a gun at Mr. Badawi’s head and threatened to kill him if he continued to say anything about confiscated properties belonging to churches, or the issues surrounding the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church committees,” CSW said.

Badawai was brought to the hospital for the treatment of injuries on several parts of his body, reported Morning Star News.

“Christians in Sudan are still awaiting the return of properties seized by the government under the Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir, ousted in April 2019,” said the news agency, adding that Badawi has been an advocate for the return of church properties confiscated under the previous regime.

Prayer Points

  • Pray to the Lord that He will guide Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan Commander in Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces   and the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers Osman Hussein to form a civil government.
  • Pray to the Lord that the new government to be formed will continue to work for religious freedom and thwart and block the influence of Islamic hard liners.
  • Pray to the Lord to ease the tensions between Sudanese Christians and Muslims.
  • Pray to the Lord for special protection Christian women and girls in Sudan, particularly converts, are vulnerable to rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage and domestic violence for their faith. 
  • Pray to the Lord to free and comfort the converts which are kept isolated in their homes to reduce the embarrassment and shame of the conversion on the family, as well as to ensure they cannot meet with other Christians.
  • Pray for believers to continue to grow in strength and faith and keep their eyes on Jesus. That they know they are not alone, that they are prayed for.
  • Pray that the Lord will appear to many Muslims in their dreams and guide them to salvation.
  • Pray for the Lord that His hand of protection will be on His believers who bring the gospel to Muslims in a hostile environment.
  • Pray that Christians will remain joyful under suffering ang forgive their persecutors.
  • Pray that pastors and elders will be granted protection and wisdom as they minister to Christians.
  • Pray for the NGOs who bring hope, relief, and spiritual nourishment to the Sudanese Christians.
  • Pray for the Lord that He will increase the number of believers and spectacular growth of church communities.

Again, we want to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord: 

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Praying for Sudan with Mariam Ibraheem

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Saturday, April 2, 2022 in a prayer conference call for Sudan and the Persecuted Church with Mariam [Meriam] Ibraheem hosted by Persecution Watch.

Mariam, a Sudanese Christian mother was arrested and charged with “apostasy” (leaving Islam) after she refused to recant her faith in Christ. She was also sentenced to receive 100 lashes for having intimate relations with her husband, considered illicit in Islam because he is a Christian. Mariam delivered her second child while shackled to a bed in her prison cell. Miraculously, Mariam was later released and is now living in the USA.

We will also continue to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord: 

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.

The Harvest

“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18)

Join us as we pray with our dear sister, Mariam, for Sudan and the persecuted church.

Prayer call leader, Nadia Dybvik and Prayer call moderator, Valerie Creekmore will lead the call tonight.

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

(Photo: Screen Grab via Fox News)

Church Building Locked, Leaders Arrested in Sudan

(Morning Star News) – Church leaders in Sudan were detained and questioned last month after Muslim extremists upset about the presence of their worship building locked it shut, sources said.

Hardline Muslims locked the building of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in Al Hag Abdalla, about 85 miles southeast of Khartoum in Madani, Al Jazirah state, on Feb. 21, said Dalman Hassan, an SCOC evangelist arrested on Feb. 27 and released along with the church pastor later that day.

Hassan said the Muslims accused church members of hostility toward Islam by holding gatherings on Fridays, the Muslim day of mosque prayer.

“They cause chaos and disrespect others’ religion,” read one of the charges against the church presented to Al Hag Abdalla officials, Hassan said.

Church member Kotti Hassan Dalman said the hardline Muslims also charged the church with providing food to children to win them to Christianity and with taking their land for the worship building.

Church members said the land belongs to a Catholic school, and that hardline Muslims fabricated the land-grab charge because they don’t want a Christian congregation worshipping in the area. Police who arrested the evangelist and another leader identified only as Pastor Stephanou on Feb. 27 requested and received ownership papers showing the land did not belong to the Muslims, church members said.

“We are urging the religious leaders and believers’ all over the country to pray for us,” church leaders said in a statement on social media.

Following two years of advances in religious freedom in Sudan after the end of the Islamist dictatorship under former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the specter of state-sponsored persecution returned with a military coup on Oct. 25, 2021.

After Bashir was ousted from 30 years of power in April 2019, the transitional civilian-military government managed to undo some sharia (Islamic law) provisions. It outlawed the labeling of any religious group “infidels” and thus effectively rescinded apostasy laws that made leaving Islam punishable by death.

With the Oct. 25 coup, Christians in Sudan fear the return of the most repressive and harsh aspects of Islamic law. Abdalla Hamdok, who had led a transitional government as prime minister starting in September 2019, was detained under house arrest for nearly a month before he was released and reinstated in a tenuous power-sharing agreement in November. Hamdock was faced with rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” from Bashir’s regime – the same deep state that is suspected of rooting out the transitional government in the Oct. 25 coup.

Persecution of Christians by non-state actors continued before and after the coup. In Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Sudan remained at No. 13, where it ranked the previous year, as attacks by non-state actors continued and religious freedom reforms at the national level were not enacted locally.

Sudan had dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in six years when it first ranked No. 13 in the 2021 World Watch List. The U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report states that conditions have improved somewhat with the decriminalization of apostasy and a halt to demolition of churches, but that conservative Islam still dominates society; Christians face discrimination, including problems in obtaining licenses for constructing church buildings.

The U.S. State Department in 2019 removed Sudan from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and upgraded it to a watch list. The State Department removed Sudan from the Special Watch List in December 2020. Sudan had previously been designated as a CPC from 1999 to 2018.

Radical Muslims Protest Sudan’s Abolishment of Apostasy, other Islamist Laws

Khartoum Mosque (Azri Alhaq)

(Morning Star News) – Radical Muslims in Sudan took to the streets today to protest the transitional government’s adoption of amendments to decriminalize apostasy and repeal other Islamist laws.

The apostasy law has been used for more than 30 years to persecute those who leave Islam. The government’s adoption this week of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act also allows non-Muslims to drink alcohol and abolishes public flogging as a criminal punishment.

“We [will] drop all the laws violating the human rights in Sudan,” Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari said.

Since the government announced plans for amendments to Sudanese law, Muslims took to social media to criticize the moves, terming them anti-Islamic and calling for massive demonstrations. Some called for “holy war” against the government for scrapping sharia (Islamic law) provisions.

On July 17, limited demonstrations took place in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman to protest the amended laws.

“Sharia, sharia or we die,” protestors shouted. “Listen you, Hamdok, this is Khartoum not New York.”

Dozens of people reportedly gathered in the protests. Brandishing banners reading, “No to secularism,” they shouted, “God’s laws shall not be replaced.”

Abadalla Hamdok was appointed prime minister by an 11-member sovereign council of six civilians and five military leaders last year after President Omar al-Bashir was deposed in April 2019. Hamdok’s government has implemented several democratic initiatives.

The apostasy law was used in 2014 to condemn to flogging and death the then-pregnant, Christian mother Meriam Yahi Ibrahim on false allegations of leaving Islam. She was released from prison on June 23, 2014, less than two months after Morning Star News broke the story of false charges of apostasy against her that set off a firestorm of international protests.

Sudan’s amended laws also ban female genital mutilation and abolish its law requiring women to obtain permission from a male guardian to travel abroad with their children.

“While the full text of the legislation has not yet been made public, reports indicate that the apostasy law was replaced by an article that prohibits hate speech,” a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) statement reads. “However, the status of Sudan’s blasphemy law remains unclear.”

USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava praised the amendments.

“We applaud the significant, historic steps Sudan is taking to safeguard the rights of women and girls and the freedom of religion or belief and urge, wide, immediate and effective implementation of these reforms,” Bhargava said in a statement. “We also urge Sudan to continue with necessary legislative reform, including repealing the country’s blasphemy law and ensuring that laws regulating hate speech comply with international human rights standards and do not impede freedom of religion or belief.”

Church leaders and other Christians termed the move as positive but said they were still waiting for the return of Christians assets confiscated under the prior Islamist regime.

“It is a good move, and I hope all will go well with these changes of laws,” the Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) told Morning Star News.

Apostasy was introduced in Sudan in 1983 as part of the sharia imposed by Col. Gaafar al-Nimeiry during his rule from 1969 to 1985, leading to civil war between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 had expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years. Christians were expected to have greater voice under the new administration.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, 2019 led by Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Bashir was ousted in April, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20, 2019 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list.

Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Sudan ranked 7th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Former Muslim from Sudan Forced into Hiding

An ethnic Messiria (Misseriya Arab) elder at meeting on status of Abyei administrative area. (Wikipedia, Sudan Envoy)

Sudan (Morning Star News) – It was more than a year ago that Muslims in the disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan noticed that Ahmed Alnour was no longer reciting his Islamic prayers five times a day.

The tribesman of the ethnic Misseriya Arabs was helping support his wife and seven children in Sudan working as a scrap trader at the Ameth common market in Abyei, a 4,072-square mile special administrative area on the border formed from the peace agreement that ended civil war in Sudan in 2005.

Alnour would soon have to leave that work, forced to flee when area Muslims confirmed that he had become a Christian.

“I saw them and heard them saying, ‘We will kill you because you left Islam and became infidel,’” he said of their attempt to burn down his home the afternoon of April 1, 2019.

Neighbors were able to douse the flames and he escaped unharmed, but on April 8 the assailants returned at 1 a.m. as he slept. He awoke to find his house in flames.

Alnour told Morning Star News that before Christians arrived to rescue him, he heard one of the assailants say in Arabic, “Let us throw him back in the fire, since he has abandoned Islam.”

The Christians took him to a hospital for treatment the following morning. He had lost all his possessions in the fire, including 600,000 South Sudanese pounds equivalent to US$6,000, but he had not lost his faith in Christ, he said.

The 43-year-old father of seven children ages 4 to 24 had put his faith in Christ just a few months prior. Paralyzed from an illness for three months in Agok, Abyei area, he received a visit from two evangelists who prayed for him and told him of salvation in Christ.

Alnour said he felt a conviction in his heart, and that after placing his trust in Christ he was healed.

“I was able to get up and walk after three months of sickness,” he said.

He was baptized at a church last Christmas. In hiding since the attacks last year, he has obtained a job and temporary quarters from church friends at an undisclosed village in the Abyei area.

Risks are growing as Muslims are looking for him, he said. Fear of Muslims’ reactions in Sudan and lack of economic opportunity keep him from going home to his family, but someday he hopes to be able to return and tell them about Christ, he said.

“I want to tell my family about my new faith in Jesus, and I am sure they will believe with me,” Alnour said.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Omar al-Bashir was ousted as president of Sudan in April 2019, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list.

Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years. Christians were expected to have greater voice under the new administration.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, 2019 led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Sudan ranked 7th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Sudan: Three churches burned down twice within one month

Pulpit in the Al Gadaref Lutheran Church, eastern Sudan, following an arson attack in 2015. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

(World Watch Monitor) Three churches in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile state, rebuilt after arson attacks in December, were burned down again in January, reports a Sudanese rights organisation.

On the evening of 28 December, the Sudan Internal Church, Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in Bout town, near the border with South Sudan, were set alight, said the Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO). The incidents were reported to the police who, HUDO said, did not investigate further.

The three churches were restored with local materials, only to be set on fire again by unidentified arsonists on 16 January.

Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh said that, contrary to HUDO’s report, the police are investigating. “If it is proven that it occurred as a result of a criminal offence, the perpetrators will be identified, pursued and brought to justice,” he said in a statement, reaffirming “Sudan’s full commitment to protecting religious freedoms and “houses of worship from any threats”.

Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states are at the centre of an ongoing armed conflict between government forces and militants belonging to the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM). Years of fighting has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes in the region where most of Sudan’s Christians live.

In a separate development, a Sudanese Christian businessman was arrested at Khartoum airport on 27 January as he returned from five years in exile, reports CSW. Ashraf Samir Mousad Obid fled the country in 2015 after a harassment campaign by the country’s former security service, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). He was arrested despite having received a guarantee that he was free to travel. After a short time in detention he was released but was told not to leave the country.

Sudan is 7th on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Christmas Celebrations Mark Progress of Religious Freedom in Sudan

Muslim government officials attend Christmas service at Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church on Dec. 25, 2019. (Facebook)

(Morning Star News) – In stark contrast to his predecessor, Sudan’s new minister of religious affairs last week attended a long-persecuted church’s Christmas service.

Following the Sudanese government’s announcement of Christmas as a public holiday for the first time in eight years, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh accompanied senior government officials at the Christmas Day service of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church – a congregation the previous Islamist government had harassed for years.

At a press conference after visiting several churches in Khartoum on Christmas Day, the Muslim leader sent a strong signal of religious coexistence to Christians in a country where they suffered for their faith under former President Omar al-Bashir.

“I tender my apology for the oppression and the harm enforced on you physically by [the prior government’s] bulldozing your church buildings, arresting and falsely imprisoning your church leaders and raiding your property,” Mufreh said, according to Radio Dabanga.

Sudan had suspended Christmas as a holiday following the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The government-run Sudan TV on Christmas Day broadcast Christmas services of various churches in Khartoum, including the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, whose members had been subject to arrests on false charges and whose property had been threatened. The church is part of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), which has been embroiled in property disputes, with the government appointing a government-run committee to assume control of the denomination.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Bashir was ousted in April, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list. Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Bashir, ousted by the army on April 11 after widespread protests began in December 2018, was sentenced on Dec. 14 to two years in a correctional facility for corruption and illegitimate possession of foreign currency. He still faces charges of plotting the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

Bashir has not yet been charged in the crackdown earlier this year that killed more than 250 protestors.

Among 11 people appointed to a Sovereignty Council to oversee the transition to civilian rule in Sudan is Raja Nicola Eissa Abdel-Masih, a Coptic Christian who long served as a judge in Sudan’s Ministry of Justice. She was one of six civilians appointed to the council on Aug. 21.

Amid these hopeful signs, Christians in Sudan are still awaiting the return of properties seized by the government under Bashir, who also has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years.

Christians are expected to have greater voice under the new administration. In September pastor Mobarak Hamad, former head of the Sudanese Church Council, demanded that the transitional government return all church buildings, lands and properties wrongfully confiscated by the former regime.

Religious Affairs Minister Mufreh told Asharq Al-Awsat his ministry would fight terrorism, extremism and takfiri notions – punishments for leaving Islam. Mufreh previously worked as a leader in the Al-Ansar Mosque in Rabak, south of Khartoum.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Hamad, the former chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, has said that the government should recover all properties confiscated under the previous regime, including the Catholic Club and another building belonging to the Sudan Interior Church.

The Catholic Club, strategically located near the Khartoum International Airport, was turned into the headquarters of Bashir’s National Congress Party. The Sudan Interior Church building, used by the Khartoum International Church and other Christian organizations, was turned into offices for the notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

On July 29, Chairman of the Military Council Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decision to amend the name of NISS to General Intelligence Service. The measure also froze Article 50 of the Law of Security Service, which had given NISS broad powers of inspection and detention without cause, widely misused against Christians and political opponents.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Religious Affairs Minister in Sudan Signals Freedom of Religion in New Era

(Morning Star News) – In another sign that Islamist elements hostile to Christianity in Sudan could be reined in, the minister of religious affairs has reiterated that Christian properties confiscated under the previous regime would be returned.

Acknowledging that Christians were persecuted and endured “very bad practices” under the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh on Sunday (Nov. 3) was quoted in International Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat as saying property stolen from Sudanese Christians would be returned through court proceedings.

Mufreh also had told media in September that confiscated church properties should be returned.

In Sunday’s article in which he invited expelled Jews to return to Sudan – as he had in September, drawing criticism from Muslim hardliners – Mufreh said that Christians and people of other beliefs are free to practice their faith in Sudan.

“They [Christians] are Sudanese, and their religion is heavenly with its values and beliefs,” Mufreh told Asharq Al-Awsat, saying that Christians have such a presence in Sudan that they should not be described as a minority.

Sudanese Christians hope the comments mark a sea change from the Islamist campaign of Bashir, ousted by the army on April 11 after widespread protests began in December 2018. Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. 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.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years.

Christians are expected to have greater voice under the new administration. [They have been praying for a real change.] In September pastor Mobarak Hamaad, former head of the Sudanese Church Council, demanded that the transitional government return all church buildings, lands and properties wrongfully confiscated by the former regime.

Religious Affairs Minister Mufreh toldAsharq Al-Awsat his ministry would fight terrorism, extremism and takfiri notionspunishments for leaving Islam. He said Islamic State (IS) had no cells established in the country while acknowledging that members had likely entered.

The Sudanese Islamic Movement project has been defeated in political and community life thanks to the glorious revolution,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, while acknowledging that a number of Islamist elements have begun trying to spread extremist ideas in Sudanese mosques.

“We will besiege these mosques with a serious discourse calling for moderation and the fight against extremism,” Mufreh told the Arabic-language news outlet.

Mufreh previously worked as a leader in the Al-Ansar Mosque in Rabak, south of Khartoum.

New Era?

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, faces charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds. In Khartoum’s Kobar prison, he is charged with “inciting and participating in” the killing of protestors. In March 2009, the International Criminal Court indicted him for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

Hamad, the former chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, has said that the government should recover all properties confiscated under the previous regime, including the Catholic Club and another building belonging to the Sudan Interior Church.

The Catholic Club, strategically located near the Khartoum International Airport, was turned into the headquarters of Bashir’s National Congress Party. The Sudan Interior Church building, used by the Khartoum International Church and other Christian organizations, was turned into offices for the notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

On July 29, Chairman of the Military Council Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decision to amend the name of NISS to General Intelligence Service. The measure also froze Article 50 of the Law of Security Service, which had given NISS  broad powers of inspection and detention without cause, widely misused against Christians and political opponents.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

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.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Please pray for Sudanese Christians.

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