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Church demolished in Sudan despite pending appeal

13 February 2018

A church belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) denomination in the Khartoum suburb of Haj Yousif was demolished on 11 February.

The police arrived with three lorries shortly after the Sunday morning service and confiscated furniture, Bibles and musical instruments, before knocking down the 29-year-old building.

The demolition went ahead despite a pending legal appeal.

“We had hoped [officials] would not attack our church outside of the court ruling, but it is clear the government is acting outside of the courts,” said an SPEC leader, who wished to remain anonymous.

Government officials claimed the congregation did not have the required permission to meet in the area, though SPEC leaders said they have the correct legal documents for the church, which was built in 1989.

Problems between church and government

The congregation was aware of objections to the presence of a church. Five years ago the Public Peace and Safety Committee, which consisted of local people, decided it wanted the church to be knocked down. In 2017 the building was placed on a list of 27 churches that the government was planning to demolish.

The church’s problems with the government date back to 2012, when the Evangelical Community Council, na SPEC committee responsible for managing the denomination’s properties, appointed Rafat Samir as chair to replace Hamad Muhammad Salah. Salah was dismissed over fraud but won his appeal, and the government reinstated him, despite having no legal authority to do so.

A number of SPEC members who objected to Salah’s reinstatement ended up in court. Earlier this month seven of the church’s leaders were fined for their ‘objection to the authorities’. Nineteen other members were freed due to lack of evidence.

Five leaders face unknown charges

Meanwhile, five leaders from the Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC) are scheduled to appear in court on 6 March to face unknown charges in another ongoing case against a church in Khartoum.

The five men were detained in October 2017 and ordered to hand over ownership of their church from the church-elected committee to a state-sanctioned rival committee. They refused and were released without further instruction. But a few days later they were charged with causing sound pollution because their church services were ‘too noisy’.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Please pray:

  • For God's grace to help Sudanese believers to remain hopeful in their persecution

  • For wisdom as they engage with the government

  • That Sudanese believers will be able to glorify Christ in these circumstances

  • For comfort and justice for the imprisoned believers, and provision for their families.

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