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Democracy First Group: ‘Discrimination growing against Christians in Sudan’

April 16 - 2017 KAMPALA
A demolished church building in Khartoum (Radio Tamazuj)
A demolished church building in Khartoum (Radio Tamazuj)

In reaction to the recent attack by government forces on an Evangelical Church and School in Omdurman during which a church elder was killed, a Sudanese think-tank warns of the “expansion of the religious discrimination against Christians in Sudan”.

On 3 April, the courtyard of the Evangelical Church and School in Omdurman witnessed the killing of Yunan Abdallah, an incident which displays the growing religious discrimination and oppression of Sudanese Christians, the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) says in a report issued on 8 April.

A conflict between the Sudanese Ministry of Guidance and the Evangelical Church over land reportedly escalated in the two weeks before the attack. A certain “group of people” signed a contract with an investor to turn the Evangelical School into investment land for a period of 25 years. When the investor tried to seize the school by force, Christian youth staged a sit-in in the church building for two weeks.

A police force raided the Evangelical Church and School on 3 April, and detained 13 of the protesters on charges of trespassing. This occurred in disregard by the Ministry, to a previous judicial ruling to protect the land and property of the church, SDFG comments.

The police returned not much later with the members of the committee that signed the contract to the site. One of them stabbed Yunan Abdallah to death and seriously wounded another church elder.

The SDFG report refers to a similar incident that occurred in July last year, when security forces stormed the Evangelical School in Khartoum-North with five heavily armed vehicles. They detained 19 Evangelical priests, elders, and students, who were holding a peaceful sit-in to protest the selling of the church land to an investor.

Growing discrimination

Though the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers the killing of the church elder less than two weeks ago an “isolated case”, saying in a press statement that the attack “will not affect the freedom of religion”, the SDFG states that “the ruling authorities continuously aim to tear [the social fabric] apart through practices of ethnic and religious discrimination”.

According to the think-tank, “Since 2011, repeated attempts to confiscate the properties of the Sudanese churches and their endowments, and increasing implementation of various types of restrictions on activities of Sudanese Christians, have been made.

“This clearly demonstrates growing and continuous trends of systematic discrimination against Christians in Sudan. An additional layer of discrimination becomes visible, when taking into account that large proportions of Sudanese Christians are originating from the conflict zones in the Nuba Mountains. Security forces have thereby additionally labelled their religious communities as a security threat.”

The SDFG points in this context also to Nuba priest Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi and Darfuri student activist Abdelmunim Abdelmoula who were sentenced to 12 years in Khartoum in January for collaborating with the Czech Christian activist Petr Jašek.

The think-tank further refers to its March 2016 report for other instances of growing discrimination against Christians in Sudan in the past few years.

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