Christians in Sudan Face Increased Hostility
NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS)—Despite a promise by the Sudanese government to grant its minority Christian population religious freedom, church leaders there said they are beset by increased restrictions and hostility in the wake of the South Sudan’s independence.
In 2011, South Sudan, a mostly Christian region, split from the predominantly Muslim and Arab north, in a process strongly supported by the international community and churches in the West.
The two regions had fought a two-decade long civil war that ended in 2005, following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The pact granted the South Sudanese a referendum after a six-year interim period and independence six months later. In the referendum, the people of South Sudan chose separation.
But while the separation is praised as good for political reasons, several churches in Khartoum, the northern capital, have been destroyed and others closed down along with affiliated schools and orphanages.
Christians in Sudan are facing increased arrests, detention and deportation with church-associated centers being raided and foreign missionaries kicked out, according to the leaders.
Situation 'very difficult'
“The situation of Christians and the church is very difficult at the moment,” said Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of the Khartoum Archdiocese.
After the secession, President Omar al-Bashir promised a country governed by an Islamic constitution where Islam is the official religion.
On July 7, Bashir declared the constitution would serve as “a role model for all people who have aspirations to apply religion in all aspects of their lives.”
He also promised the participation of religious leaders in writing the laws. But church leaders say that is unlikely. Though the current constitution recognizes all religions, in practice the government has not been inclusive. More than 97 percent of Sudan’s 30 million residents are Muslim.
Recently, some government officials, politicians and Muslims leaders have issued statements that indicate the growing intolerance.
No new churches
In April, Al-Fatih Taj El- Sir, the minister for guidance and social endowments, said the government would no longer license new churches because attendance had stagnated following the independence of South Sudan. In an address to parliament, El-Sir said abandoned church buildings had increased after most Christians had moved to the south.
And in May, Ammar Saleh, the chairman of the Khartoum-based Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, rebuked his government for failing to take decisive action against Christians who were allegedly operating “boldly” in the country.
Adwok said he found the government statements disturbing.
“It is true some have moved to South Sudan, but there are many who are still here,” he said. “This statement (that all Christians have left) cannot be thrown around aimlessly. The numbers have decreased, but it does not mean there are no Christians here.”
More than 300,000 Christians live in Khartoum, according to the leaders, with many others living in the conflict-hit Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, regions in the country.
There, they have been subjected to aerial bombardment by the Sudanese air force, according to humanitarian agencies.
Many fear the government is trying to eliminate Christianity as it adopts Islamic law, said the Rev. James Par Tap, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan.
“Many people are being forced out and their property taken away,” Par Tap said. “Even the churches are being taken away. We have been trying to talk to the government, but it’s not easy.”
He said Sudanese churches had been denied many rights in the history of the country. The groups could only get building space on the periphery of cities such as Khartoum. Many Christians are not seen as citizens and often face forced conversion to Islam.
“Church freedom is so constrained (and) holding meetings in the open is a crime,” said the Rev. Barnaba Mathias of the Sudanese Church of Christ. “We have to seek permission from the authorities for such meetings, which is often denied. Our children are not taught Christian education in schools, so we have to gather them somewhere on Fridays to teach them,” he adds.
Mathias urges the international Christian community to act as the voice of the persecuted Sudanese church so that it can be granted its freedom. For now, its members can only pray in the churches — with Khartoum closely watching.
In top photo, a Sudan church choir sings during a Sunday service at All Saints (Anglican) Cathedral in Khartoum. (RNS Photo by Fredrick Nzwili)
- Andrew MasonCreating A Small Group Curriculum Map by Ben Reed http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/creating-a-small-group-curriculum-map/
- Marcella WoodridgeThe longer I live the more I know I need GOD leading my life every step of the way.
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia Carter just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost May Jesus Christ Be The Ultimate Treasure We Always Seek by Debbie Harris..
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost Father Who Can We Graciously And Humbly Walk Beside Today Just To Love by Debbie Harris.
- Bryce Johnson just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Bill Reichart published the blogpost 13 Resources For Ministry Leaders Who Struggle with Porn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Expert Reveals Biggest Concern About Youngsters And Social Media.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Half (54%) Of US Teens Think Life Would Be Better Without Social Media.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Roy Lichtenstein's Most Popular Painting is Displayed.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost After Confronting Campus Bully, HS Football Player Gets Suspended.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Conservative Student Is Victim Of ‘Racist Rape Apologist’ Attack Fliers.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Yik Yak app Putting Teens Behind Bars, Police Warn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Hearing That Things Can Change Helps Teens Dodge Depression.
- Andrew Shivers just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost GIVEAWAY: Win a Framed “The Fault in Our Stars” FULL SIZE Movie Poster [Winner Chosen].
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost ‘Boxtrolls:’ Incredible Animation, Charmless Story.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Video of the Day: Dad Lip-Syncs Daughter's Tantrum.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost SOTW: ‘Chasing After The Wind’ by Alan Powell (Free Friday Download).
- Matt Perman published the blogpost The Drive Video: If You Want Engagement, Self-Direction is Better.
- LuAnn Braley published the blogpost BOOK REVIEW/INTERVIEW: The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth.
- Shane Blackshear published the blogpost Seminary Dropout 55: Gary Black Jr. – Co-author of The Divine Conspiracy Continued.
- Lori Fogleman published the blogpost ‘Believe Me': Alum’s thought-provoking film now in theaters.
- Michael Ramsey published the blogpost Stress Kills!!! Here's 3 Ways To Do Something About It.
- Larry Carter published the blogpost How The New Fall TV Season Reminds Me Of The Gospel.
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost 20 Approaches to Battling Depression-Anxiety as Suffering.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Hellion’ is A Wild, Family-Driven Ride Worth Taking.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ is Cool, Uncommitted.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost “Kidnapped for Christ” Review: The Terror of Teens.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Pieces Together a Winning Team.
- Ashley Howland published the blogpost Talking about cancer on WFAA’s ‘Two Chairs’ series.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Get Excited: New ‘Believe Me’ Trailer Validates Everything We Thought.
- solomon david published the blogpost Micromax Canvas Nitro Launched for Rs 12,990 in India.