JUBA, south sudanJune 20, 2022 (Morning Star News) — Sudanese police entered a church Bible class on Tuesday June 14 and arrested two Christian leaders for “violation of public order”, their lawyer said.
Officers in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum, arrested Pastor Kabashi Idris of the African Home Church and Evangelist Yacoub Ishakh of the Independent Baptist Church in the presence of those attending the Bible study at Hai Al Thawra West Baptist Church. part of town, attorney Shinbago Awad said.
Charged with disturbing public order under article 77 of the Sudanese penal code, they were released on bail the same day, he said.
“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 church leaders,” Awad said. “The radical Muslim told police that his children were singing Christian songs and fearing they would convert to Christianity.”
Last month, the radical Muslim whose home is near the church building filed a lawsuit for disturbing the public order, apparently because the church was worshiping while singing, Awad said. On May 19, the police summoned and questioned the two church leaders and released them.
A guilty verdict could result in a prison sentence of up to three months, a fine or both, and the court could issue an order to cease worship services, Awad said.
After two years of religious freedom advances in Sudan following the end of the Islamist dictatorship under Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the specter of state-sponsored persecution returned with a military coup on October 25, 2021 .
After Bashir was ousted from 30 years of power in April 2019, the civilian-military transitional government managed to undo some 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 He banned the labeling of any religious group as “infidels” and thus repealed apostasy laws that made abandoning Islam punishable by death.
With the October 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 from September 2019, was held under house arrest for nearly a month before being released and reinstated under a power-sharing deal. tenuous power in November.
Hamdock had faced rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist ‘deep state’ from Bashir’s regime – the same deep state that is believed to have rooted out the transitional government in the coup of October 25.
Persecution of Christians by non-state actors continued before and after the coup. In Open Doors’ 2022 global watchlist of countries where it is hardest to be a Christian, Sudan remained at 13th, where it ranked the previous year, as attacks by actors non-state laws were continuing and that 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 13th on the 2021 Global Watch List. The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report says that conditions have improved somewhat with the decriminalization of apostasy and a halt to the demolition of churches, but that conservative Islam still dominates 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 of State 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 2 million, or 4.5% of the total population of over 43 million.
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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.
Photo courtesy: Rod Long