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Sudan cracks down on Christian activity with arrests and school closures

Country/Region: Sudan, Middle East and North Africa

The Sudanese authorities are cracking down on Christian activity in the strongly Islamic country with an upsurge of arrests and closures of Christian-run schools.

Barnabas Aid is rescuing thousands of Christians from Sudan
Barnabas Aid is rescuing thousands of Christians from Sudan

Three Christians of South Sudanese origin were ordered last week to leave the country within 24 hours, following their detention.

Pastor Ismail Bashir had been arrested on 7 January for his involvement with a Christian radio station. Cecilia Jamu was detained under suspicion of aiding Sudanese churches; her husband Anthony was also subsequently jailed, leaving their children in the care of friends.

The three had to leave the country on 30 January.

On 19 December, four members of staff at a non-profit organisation that produces Christian songs and films were arrested and interrogated. They were released the following day.

Over the past two months, dozens of foreign Christians have been ordered out of Sudan, and the government is refusing to renew the visas of many others.

A Christian source in Khartoum said that the “atmosphere in Sudan is alarming and frightening”.

The closure of two Christian-run schools in the capital has been ordered. One is a primary school that will shut at the end of the academic year in April after the authorities discovered it was not teaching Islamic studies, as required by Sudanese law, and was not separating male and female students.

The other school provided English-language lessons to 500 adults. On 3 January, three staff members were arrested and interrogated over suspicions that they were evangelising Muslims. Security agents confiscated all of the centre’s assets, including computers and laptops.

It would seem that President Omar al-Bashir is enforcing his repeated declarations that Sudan would become 100% Islamic, with sharia law strengthened, following the secession of the South. In July 2012, he said:

We want to present a constitution that serves as a template to those around us. And our template is clear, a 100 per cent Islamic constitution, without communism or secularism or Western [influences].

Christians in Sudan have reportedly suffered an increase in harassment and violence since South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011.

All people of Southern origin, who are mainly Christian and African, were ordered to leave Sudan after the secession. Through our major Exodus rescue mission, Barnabas Aid is helping to repatriate thousands of vulnerable Christians who were stranded in makeshift camps on the outskirts of Khartoum.  

Source: Morning Star News

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