VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Home » Posts tagged 'Sudan'

Tag Archives: Sudan

Categories

Archives

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.

Christians in Darfur, Sudan Arrested during Combined Worship of House Churches

Market street and post office in Nyala, South Darfur, Sudan. (Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News)– Security officials in Sudan last week arrested 13 Christians during a worship service in the Darfur Region, sources said.

Personnel from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) interrupted the worship service the afternoon of Oct. 10 in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state in western Sudan’s Darfur Region and arrested all 13 Christians present (not Oct. 13 while evangelizing Muslims, as reported elsewhere), the sources said.

NISS personnel gave no reason for arresting the Christians, members of four different churches who had come together for the service, except to say that they were all converts from Islam, the sources said. Authorities are targeting Christian converts from Islam in Darfur, they said.

“We are worried because their whereabouts are still unknown,” said one source, adding that he feared they might be tortured. “The Christians gathered as one body of Christ from different denominations.”

The arrested Christians include 10 from Darfur and three from the Nuba Mountains in southeastern Sudan. Church leader Tajaldin Idriss Yousif was arrested along with his church members: Alfadil Ismail Alnil, Ahmed Mohammed Hassan, Neseraldin Osman, Shemen Ahmed Shemen and Abubaker Biri.

Other Christians arrested were identified only as Kamal, Abdullah, Mutasim, Mujahid, El Sadik Afendi, Bolis Suliman and Abdel Maseh. NISS, widely regarded as a notorious agency staffed by hard-line Islamists, may hold people in detention for up to four and a half months without charges.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir 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.

The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 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 on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. 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.

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.

UPDATE:

Sudanese police released ten Darfuri Christians on Sunday, 21 October, after they faced severe pressure for their faith and were beaten, a local source has told World Watch Monitor.

The ten were part of a group of 13 Christians who were taken by security officials from a home they shared in the city of Nyala, southwest Darfur, on 13 October. It is not clear on what charges they were arrested, though three of them were released shortly after.

It is also unclear if any of them will face further prosecution, according to World Watch Monitor’s source.

 

Ten killed as Christian college attacked in South Sudan

Residential accommodation at the Emmanuel Christian College training centre in Goli, South Sudan. (Photo: Open Doors International, 2009)

At least ten people, including five children, have been killed in an attack on a college in South Sudan teaching Theology, Education and Business, according to the Christian charity Open Doors International.

Three guards and five students – one secondary and four primary school pupils – were among the victims of the 14 May attack on the Emmanuel Christian College (ECC) in Goli, in Yei county. A displaced father and son, who had taken refuge there after fleeing Mundri, were also killed.

The attackers also raped the 14-year-old daughter of a staff member, Open Doors reported, and vandalised and looted college offices, single-staff houses, classrooms and the library.

Witnesses reportedly told Open Doors the attackers were from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the main force which formerly fought Africa’s longest-running civil war for independence from Sudan in the north.

After peace was agreed between north and south Sudan in January 2005, the SPLA’s political arm, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), in turn formed a government under President Salva Kiir, and his deputy, Riek Machar. However a political feud between the two men then degenerated into political and ethnic rivalries: Kiir is a Dinka and Machar is a Nuer.

It is not clear why government-backed forces might have attacked the college.

The ECC management, which stresses the inter-tribal, inter-ethnic nature of its college, has reported the incident to state authorities and is working with them on next steps, Open Doors said.

ECC is a training institution that was set up by Open Doors in partnership with the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in 2001.

Since predominantly Christian South Sudan gained its independence from the Islamic Republic of Sudan in the north in 2011, Open Doors has been gradually withdrawing from the world’s newest country, and had handed over ownership of ECC to the local Church.

“We extend our condolences to all affected by the loss of life and our sincerest empathy to those affected by rape, witnessing of violence and looting,” Open Doors’ Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, JP Pretorius, said. “We call on the international Christian community to rally in prayer around staff at the ECC and the Church in South Sudan. We also call on the international community to do whatever it can to help bring an end to the hostilities in South Sudan and on the South Sudan government to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to book.”

Background

Since its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan has been mired in conflict. More than 2 million people were displaced during two years of civil war, primarily between the Kiir and Machar factions, which officially ended in 2015.

Although the warring factions signed a peace deal, the fighting continued. In 2016 a UN commission on human rights warned of “ethnic cleansing” taking place in the country and in 2017 a famine was declared in parts of South Sudan.

Insecurity in the area had on several occasions interrupted activities at ECC, Open Doors said, and while most key staff members remained on the premises, theological and other training had been moved to Yei. (World Watch Monitor)

Christians in Sudan Charged in Defense of Church Property Case

(Morning Star News) – A court in Omdurman, Sudan on Wednesday (April 11) charged four Christians who defended church property from a takeover by a Muslim business interest, sources said.

Azhari Tumbara, Muna Matta, George Adam and Kudi Abderhman last year tried to keep authorities from seizing Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) property in Khartoum. Judge Adam Babiker charged the Christians with causing physical harm to police and supporters of a Muslim businessman who tried to take control of church school property in April 2017, the Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, SPEC moderator, told Morning Star News.

If found guilty under Article 142 of the Sudan Penal Code, the four Christians could be sentenced to a fine and a prison term of up to six months, said Attorney Adam Abu Anja, their legal counsel. Anja said he doubted they would receive the maximum sentence.

“I am confident – the charges are not that serious,” Anja told Morning Star News. “We have enough witnesses that, if they are convicted, they might be fined, that is all.”

A verdict could come at the next hearing on Monday (April 16).

On April 3, 2017, church elder Younan Abdullah died from injuries sustained in the raid by authorities and the Muslim business interest’s supporters on the school in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum. Abdullah, an elder with Bahri Evangelical Church, died in a hospital after being stabbed while he and others were defending women at the Evangelical School of Sudan, SPEC sources told Morning Star News.

He is survived by his wife and two young children.

Acquitted

At the same hearing on Wednesday (April 11), the judge cleared five church leaders accused in the church takeover case, including Pastor Nalu.

“Five of us were freed for lack of evidence,” Pastor Nalu said.

Pastor Nalu, the Rev. Idriss Kartina, the Rev. Zachariah Ismael, elder Bolus Tutu and Salim Hassan were acquitted.

On Feb. 5 a court in Sudan fined seven church leaders who fought the takeover of the school in Omdurman for “objection to authorities,” a church leader said. The court fined SPEC elder Yohanna Tia 5,000 Sudanese Pounds (US$275).

Tia was one of 26 church leaders who appeared in court over a two-week span in the case. Seven church leaders were ordered to pay fines of 2,500 Sudanese pounds (US$137) each, and 19 were freed for lack of evidence, according to Pastor Nalu.

Two pastors – the Rev. Dawoud Fadul, SPEC moderator, and Pastor Kartina – were also fined 2,500 Sudanese pounds each. Church elders Adam George, Bolus Tutu and one identified only as Azhari were also fined, along with school director Ustaz Dauod Musa Namnam.

On Aug. 15, 2017, police raided Pastor Nalu’s home and another belonging to SPEC leader. They evicted the families of Pastor Nalu and the Rev. Sidiq Abdalla, a SPEC pastor who has two children, ages 8 and 10. Pastor Nalu has a 1-year-old boy.

The action was considered part of the government-aided bid by Muslim businessman Hisham Hamad Al-Neel to take over church property. Police told the pastors they were carrying out a court order.

Leadership of SPEC remains in the hands of government-appointed committee members even after a court ruled in November 2016 that the appointments were illegal, sources said.

The Evangelical School of Sudan is one of several SPEC schools throughout Sudan.

In its campaign to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders say, Sudan has designated at least 25 church buildings for destruction.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 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 on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. 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.

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, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fourth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

%d bloggers like this: