Sudanese officials raided a house church in South Darfur, Sudan on 13 October, arresting 13 Christians and subjected the converts from Islam in the group to a day and night of beating and torture.
Security agents entered a house in the city of Nyala, known as a Christian meeting place, on the morning of 13 October. They asked the group meeting there, “Are you Christians?” and arrested all 13 when they answered “yes”.
The agents released two believers with Christian backgrounds from the Nuba mountains, the oldest Christian region in Sudan, but detained eleven converts from Islam including the pastor, Tajdeen Yousif.
A Barnabas Fund contact reported, “They tortured them beating them a whole day and night and telling them you face death because you changed your religion.”
Ten of the Christian converts were later released after reportedly being tortured into recanting their faith. Pastor Tajdeen, who is also a convert from Islam but refused to deny Christ, was held for several more days and has since been released. All eleven were required to report daily to authorities, but have gone into hiding for their safety.
Under Islamic sharia law, Muslims who abandon their religion face severe punishment. According to all schools of sharia, men face the death penalty. Sudan’s constitution gives judicial discretion to courts in the application of sharia.
Sudan is one of the few countries in the world today where people have been executed for apostasy. In 1985, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, a 76-year-old moderate Muslim political leader who had opposed the establishment of sharia by the Sudanese government, was hanged as an apostate for his views. Christian converts from Islam could potentially be executed also. In 2014, a Christian Sudanese woman was sentenced to death for apostasy. Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was raised as a Christian by her mother, but because her estranged father was a Muslim, authorities claimed she was a Muslim by birth and was therefore guilty of apostasy. An international outcry led to her eventual release.
There is an openness to the Gospel among African Sudanese Muslims in Darfur who have suffered greatly in the war that has raged in Sudan since 2003. Hundreds of thousands have died and hundreds of thousands are displaced in a conflict based on a complex of political, economic and ethnic issues.
Christians in the mainly Muslim region are among the African Sudanese who have been targeted by the Arab-Islamic Sudanese government. Some Christians are struggling to survive in the camps, and others struggling to earn a living in the towns. But the most vulnerable are those who have left Islam to follow Christ, a decision that probably means they will lose their job, get evicted from their home and no longer be able to educate their children. In March 2018, a church pastor in Darfur was murdered by Muslim extremists, along with his wife and two daughters, after he refused to give in to pressure to stop preaching the Gospel.
From Barnabas Fund contacts