Sudanese police reportedly entered a church during a Bible lesson on June 14 and arrested two Christian leaders for allegedly “violating public order”.
Officers in Omdurman, located across the Nile from Khartoum, took Pastor Kabashi Idris of the African Home Church and Evangelist Yacoub Ishakh of the Independent Baptist Church past people attending the Bible study at Hai Al Thawra West Area Baptist Church. the city, the men’s attorney, Shinbago Awad, told Morning Star News.
Awad said Idris and Ishakh were charged with disturbing public order under article 77 of the Sudanese penal code. The two Christian leaders were released on the same day.
“They were accused by a radical Muslim neighbor who filed a complaint against them at the local police station, prompting the police to arrest the two religious leaders,” Awad said. “The radical Muslim told police his children were singing Christian songs and fearing they would convert to Christianity.”
Idris and Ishakh were questioned by the police about the incident and released.
Morning Star reports that if the men are found guilty on the charge, they could be jailed for three months, as well as a fine. The court could also order a halt to worship services at the church.
As CBN News reported, after the end of the Islamist dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, a brief period of freedom followed. But then the specter of state-sponsored persecution in Sudan returned with a military coup last October.
After Bashir was ousted after 30 years in power, the civilian-military transitional government succeeded in overriding some provisions of Sharia (Islamic law). He banned the labeling of any religious group as “infidels” and thus repealed apostasy laws that made abandoning Islam punishable by death.
But with the military coup, Christians in Sudan fear the return of the most repressive and harsh aspects of Islamic law, according to Morning Star.
The country borders the Sahara Desert in eastern Central Africa. It is the third largest country on the continent.
Sudan is ranked 13th on the Open Doors global watch list. He left the top 10 on the list for the first time in six years in 2021.
The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report says conditions have improved somewhat since apostasy was decriminalized and church tearing stopped, but hardline Islam still dominates the Sudanese society. Christians face discrimination, including problems obtaining licenses to build churches.
In 2019, the US State Department removed Sudan from the list of countries of particular concern (CPC) that commit or condone “systematic, continuing, and gross violations of religious freedom” and upgraded it to a list monitoring. The department removed Sudan from the Special Watch List in December 2020. Sudan had previously been designated as a CPC from 1999 to 2018.
Sudan’s Christian population is estimated at almost 2 million, or 4.5% of the total population of over 44 million.
*** Please sign up for CBN newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you continue to receive the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective. ***