Police in Omdurman, Sudan’s largest city, bulldozed a church building on 21 October, claiming the land on which it was built had been allocated for a proposed marketplace. The State Governor, however, had assured church leaders on 20 October that the building would not be destroyed.
Despite the authorities’ claims that the area was set for redevelopment, church leaders argue that this cannot be the reason because a mosque that was situated next to the church was left standing.“The [church] was founded in this area in 1975,” said a local church leader. “The mosque was not there when the church was established.”
“The authorities’ claim that there is coexistence between religions is just for political consumption,” said senior church leader Yagoub Boutros. “In fact there is no religious coexistence,” he said, adding that Christians in Sudan are being persecuted for their faith.
After the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir said that Sudan would be fully Islamic, a statement he reiterated on 26 October at the National Council for Strategic Planning.
Sharia law is enforced and apostasy carries a death sentence. Numerous churches have been destroyed and Sudanese laws prohibit the construction of new church buildings, so they cannot be replaced. Another church was completely destroyed on 17 October in Gadaref, in eastern Sudan, after it was burned to the ground.