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Sudan: Churches to be demolished; Intelligence service criticised

06 March 2017

A government order to demolish 27 places of worship included house churches was due to be heard at the Bahri Court of Appeal in Khartoum on 1 March, reports Radio Dabanga.

An appeal lodged on 27 February succeeded in delaying the demolition of the churches, located north and east of the Nile, in Soba El Aradi and one in Jebel Awliya in Khartoum.

The dispute was initiated when land administrations, as well as the ministry, refused to provide the church's defence lawyers with the removal orders concerning three churches.

"We were surprised to discover in that order that there were 25 churches in total scheduled for removal. Later two churches were added, one in Soba El Aradi and the other in Jebel Awliya," explained Dimas James Marjan, the lawyer who made the appeal.

A senior church member in Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that the churches intended for demolition 'are ordinary houses where Christians congregate for prayer, where they exercise worship, according to the right that's guaranteed by the law and the Constitution'. He explained that Christians use these prayer-homes because the government has stopped granting permits for churches to be built. Last year, churches in Bahri and El Haj Yousif were destroyed.

This news follows the release on 26 Feb of Czech Christian aid worker, Petr Jašek, who was imprisoned along with Sudanese pastor, Hassan Taour, and Darfui graduate, Abdulmonem Abdumawla.

CitizenGO, which gathered over 400,000 petitions for Petr's release, has published a YouTube video translation of his press briefing into English, in which Petr says, "The situation of Christians in Sudan is very difficult, especially for those developing missionary efforts in various rural areas. One of my colleagues in prison got sick with malaria, it was a common disease in there."

Hassan and Abdulmonem remain in jail for alleged espionage, inciting strife between communities and undermining the authority of the state.

Justice criticises intelligence agency's 'arbitrary arrests'

Sudan's Deputy Chief Justice has denounced 'ongoing arbitrary arrests' by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

"The security apparatus should not be left to do whatever it wants," said Justice Abdulmajid Idris, who also criticised the service's practice of holding prisoners in long periods of detention without trial.

The NISS has been involved in the arrest of a number of Christians, including Rev Hassan, where he has been held alongside Abdulmonem since December 2015.

Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide said their case 'further illustrates the politicisation of the criminal justice system by the NISS, which, under the pretext of investigating national security crimes, has brought charges against members of the political opposition, human rights defenders and leaders of minority religions, as occurred in the case of Reverends Yat Michael and Peter Reith in 2015'.

Persecution in Sudan

Sudan is ranked as number 5 on Open Doors' 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Sudanese have followed a programme of confiscating church property and demolishing buildings, and a history of unjust arrest and imprisonment of Christians. One of the most notorious cases was the arrest of Mariam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian, who was initially sentenced to death for apostasy and flogging for 'adultery'. After international outcry she was released in was released in June 2014.

Source: Open Doors; Radio Dabanga; World Watch Monitor; CSW

Please pray:

  • That the appeal to overturn the order to demolish 27 churches would be successful
  • That Justice Abdulmajid Idris's remarks would lead to a positive change in the way the NISS operate
  • For believers languishing in jail, that God would be with them
  • That the church of God would flourish in Sudan, despite opposition.

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Find out more about persecution in Sudan.