(RNS) Christians in Sudan frequently face arrests, impromptu questioning and expulsion. But this month, conditions worsened after the government announced a ban on the construction of new churches.

The All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum is an Anglican church and one of the houses of worship that the Sudanese government says is enough to serve the remaining Christian population.

All Saints’ Cathedral in Khartoum is an Anglican church and one of the houses of worship that the Sudanese government says is enough to serve the remaining Christian population. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili


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Shalil Abdullah, the Sudanese minister for guidance and religious endowments, made the announcement on July 12, sparking criticism from top Christian clerics who warned of shrinking worship space in the mainly Muslim and Arab north.

After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, many Christians moved to the newly formed country, which has a large Christian population. But a sizable number remained.

Abdullah argued there is no need to grant plots of land for new churches since the existing ones were enough for the remaining Christians.

The Rev. Kori Elramla Kori Kuku, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, said the government’s intentions were shocking and misleading.

“We (Christians) have the right to have new plots of land and building of new churches,” he said. “We need the churches for the growing of Sudanese Christians.”

The human rights organization, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which works on behalf of persecuted Christians, issued a statement, saying the continued practice of demolishing and confiscating church land constitutes a violation of the right of freedom of religion or belief.

Sudanese religious freedom became a rallying cry after the sentencing to death of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a Christian woman who was charged with apostasy. Although Ibrahim, who is married to an American citizen from South Sudan, was freed, she has been unable to leave the country.

YS/AMB END NZWILI

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Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

5 Comments

  1. Chaplain Martin

    Why are they so bent on limiting and eliminating Christianity in their nation? What tyrants and fundamentalist can’t control they fear. First the council in Jerusalem then the Roman empire tried to wipe out Christianity. Rome finally made it an official religion, which probably was not as helpful as you would think, for then the church took on the trappings of Rome and married church and state. Then so called Christian nations like, Great Britain, Italy, and France tried to fight the reformation by persecution of those who dissented from the “officially accepted” beliefs.

    Thomas Helwys (in 1400’s)and his wife both died in New Gate Prison after telling King James that he had physical control of his subjects but not control over their beliefs/thoughts.
    Yet here are Muslim fanatics/leaders telling Christians like Rome once told them, “If you renounce your faith and worship the (Emperor for Rome) or go through the motions of denying your faith and embrace Islam then you can live.” No mater what overt actions a person makes, it will not change a dedicated believer, and yes many have died for their faith instead on bowing to the powers of the state or mob. It is significant than in the twenty-first century more people are dying because of their religion than even during the days of Roman persecution or the reformation.

  2. The Sudanese Government has been committing genocide against Christians and Animists in the South for about 40 years and in Darfur for over a decade and THIS is what makes people notice?

    Nowadays attacking Christians in Sudan has a political motive. Christians are associated with the newly independent breakaway state of South Sudan. Nothing like a good old fashioned pogrom to get people to rally behind an autocratic government.

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