Intimidation, arrests and church demolition
Sudan’s current political chaos has left Christians in limbo. The secession of South Sudan in 2011 has also made Christians more vulnerable as Islamic conservatives in Sudan push for a Shariah State. Recently, the government has arrested or intimidated many Christian leaders, and numerous churches have been demolished—including places of worship that had been in use for years. Extremists have attacked Christians, especially in the Nuba Mountain region, where thousands of Christians have been killed or displaced.
The ethnic-cultural landscape of the country is also complicated: Arab versus ethnic African, Muslim versus Christian. This is particularly true for ethnic Africans, as a significant number are Christian and still living in the country. All Christian communities in Sudan are afraid of having conversations about their faith with Sudanese Muslims as this might be construed as being an “act that encourages apostasy against Islam.” The level of persecution that converts and ethnic Africans face is enormous. There have been arrests; many churches have been demolished and others are on an official list awaiting demolition; many Christians have been attacked indiscriminately in areas like the Nuba Mountains where there is an ongoing conflict between government forces and rebel groups.
So as not to be discovered, converts from Islam will often refrain from raising their children as Christians because this might attract the attention of the government and community leaders (since children might inadvertently reveal the faith of their parents). This fear even extends to funerals where deceased Christians with a Muslim background are often buried according to Islamic rites in Muslim cemeteries, even though Christian and Muslim cemeteries are separate.
Persecution in focus
Christian converts with a Muslim background are particularly at risk since the law officially punishes conversion from Islam to another religion by death. They usually refrain from owning Christian materials or accessing Christian TV or websites. If discovered, these could be used as evidence against them by family or officials.
Christian children are often harassed in school or playgrounds due to their parent’s faith.
A very high level of violence against Christians is evident, particularly in the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State regions where Christians are targeted indiscriminately by government security forces.
Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).
Pray for Sudan
In 2019, civilian protests brought an end to the rule of dictator Hassan al Bashir. Further civilian protests forced the transitional military council to seek agreement with the coalition of opposition forces. Thank the Lord for these changes and the agreement that was reached. Pray for continued openness as much uncertainty still remains, especially for religious minorities like Christians.
Pray for wisdom and accountability for the new transitional council headed by Abdalla Hamdok.
As the future of religious freedom remains unclear following the coup, pray that true religious freedom will be implemented.
People are still mourning the 100 people killed in the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Sudan’s security forces in the summer of 2019. Pray that the Lord will be at work in these circumstances, saving the lost and encouraging His children.
Sudan Photo Gallery
Stories from Sudan June 12, 2020 Historic Executive Order provides $50 million in aid for advancing global religious freedom The new Executive Order is believed to be the first-ever to exclusively address the issue of international religious freedom. Read More + READ MORE March 6, 2020 A ‘living death’: How Christian women experience persecution A new 2020 Open Doors in-depth report focusing on gendered persecution surfaces some disturbing realities for Christian women and girls in the top 50 countries where women are highly persecuted for their decision to follow Jesus. Read More + READ MORE January 22, 2020 Facial recognition technology ushers in new wave of Christian persecution A new wave of Christian persecution led by facial recognition technology is one of four major trends impacting believers today. Read More + READ MORE