Church building locked down and leaders arrested in Sudan, Evangelical Focus

Church leaders in Sudan were arrested and questioned last month after Muslim extremists raised concerns about their church building being locked, sources said.

Diehard Muslims have locked down the building of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in Al Hag Abdallaabout 85 miles southeast of Khartoum in Madani, Al Jazirah state on February 21, said Dalman Hassan, a SCOC evangelist arrested on February 27 and released with the church pastor later during the day.

Hassan said that the Muslims have accused church members of hostility to Islam by holding rallies on Friday, the Muslim day of the mosque prayer.

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

Church member Kotti Hassan Dalman said extremist Muslims also instructed the church to provide food for the children to win them over to Christianity and to take their land for the worship building.

Church members said the land belonged to a Catholic school and that the extremist Muslims had made up the charge of land grabbing because they did not want a Christian congregation to worship in the area.

Police who arrested the evangelist and another leader identified only as Pastor Stephanou on February 27 asked for and received property papers showing that the land did not belong to Muslimschurch members said.

“We urge religious leaders and believers across the country to pray for us,” the church leaders said in a statement on social media.

After two years of religious freedom gains in Sudan following 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 October 25, 2021.

After Bashir was ousted from 30 years of power in April 2019, the civilian-military transitional government managed to overturn 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He banned the labeling of any religious group as “infidels” and thus repealed apostasy laws that made abandoning Islam punishable by death.

With the 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 faced the eradication of 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 d’etat of Bashir. October 25. Persecution of Christians by non-state actors continued before and after the coup.

In Open Doors 2022 Global Watchlist countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Sudan remained in the number. 13, where it ranked the previous year, as attacks by non-state actors continued and religious freedom reforms at the national level were not adopted locally.

Sudan had dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in six years when it ranked 13th on the 2021 World Watch List for the first time.

The US State Department’s report on international religious freedom indicates 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 for the construction of religious buildings.

the In 2019, the US State Department removed Sudan from the list of countries of particular concern (CPC) who commit or condone “systematic, continuous, and flagrant violations of religious liberty” and put him on a watch list. 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.

the The Christian population of Sudan is estimated at 2 million, or 4.5% of the total population over 43 million.

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– Church building locked down and leaders arrested in Sudan

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