Published: 16:00 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 19 October 2011
Sudan to become official “Muslim state” in ominous move for Christians
Country/Region: Sudan, Middle East and North Africa
Sudan’s president has confirmed plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution and strengthen sharia law, raising the threat level for Christians and other non-Muslims in the country.
President of Sudan,
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said last Wednesday (12 October) that the Republic of Sudan will become a “Muslim state”.
Ninety eight per cent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source [of the constitution].
His statement reinforces a previous announcement, made last December, that Sudan would adopt an Islamic constitution if the South seceded, which it did on 9 July. On that occasion, President Bashir said:
If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity... Sharia and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language.
Sudan’s current constitution theoretically grants freedom of religion, recognising that the state is “multi-religious”, though in practice non-Muslims face severe discrimination and persecution.
Christians under threat
President Bashir’s latest announcement raises the threat level for the more than one million largely Christian southerners, who still live in Sudan, as well as for non-Muslim and non-Arab northerners.
It comes amid reports of increasing threats and pressure on churches in Sudan, as well as targeted assaults on Christians, pastors and churches in the border region of South Kordofan, which has been under attack by the Sudanese military.
Since the secession of South Sudan, some Christian pastors in Sudan have been warned not to conduct church services, on pain of death, while some churches are closing their schools and considering emigration to the South.
Southerners still living in Sudan are now treated legally as foreigners; they have been given until the spring to leave or obtain the right to stay, which is a complicated process. They have lost government jobs and now need work and residency permits.
The future for non-Muslims and non-Arabs in Sudan is looking increasingly untenable, threatening the very existence of the Church there.
- 1No new licences for church buildings to be issued in Sudan - 2 months ago
- 2Editorial: Systematic campaign to eradicate Christianity from Sudan? - 3 months ago
- 3Sudan’s next constitution will be “100% Islamic” as “template” for others - 11 months ago
- 4Sudanese Christians suffering amid humanitarian crises and persecution - 1 year ago