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Removed church community 'left without place to pray' in Khartoum

May 9 - 2017 KHARTOUM
Demolished church building in Soba Aradi in south-east Khartoum (photographer unknown)
Demolished church building in Soba Aradi in south-east Khartoum (photographer unknown)

The demolition of a church in southern Khartoum last weekend deprived the church community of a place to pray, without any official warning and to the anger of residents.

The church building at Soba square 7 was bulldozed to the ground on Sunday and two pastors were detained for several hours by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). “We used to gather in the Soba church every first day of the new month.

“We heard about the news of the demolition at 2 pm. Members of the church in Mayo district and I arrived at the site in the afternoon and found the church levelled,” said Reverend Elias Abdelrahim, a priest of the Sudanese Church of Christ, in an interview with Radio Dabanga yesterday.

“A part of the building was still standing but it's not suitable for prayer.” Reverend Abdelrahim said that they are seeking a solution to find a temporary place to pray.

Residents of the area and neighbours reacted with anger to the demolition, according to the priest, “because the church had been there for a long time, even before the area was planned.”

Asked about any notifications or measures prior to the demolition of the church, he claimed that the Sudanese Church of Christ has received no official warning. “The only warning was an unofficial verbal warning from a police sergeant without specifying the date of the removal.”

Land

Abdelrahim said that the piece of land on which the church was built was “a random piece”, acquired by staking a claim. The complex later received its official papers. “But we now rely on preliminary papers that are issued by the local, popular committees.”

'The tearing-down of the church was not done by legal means.' - Lawyer

Abdelrahim said that they will continue their efforts to complete all administrative procedures before attempting to rebuild the Soba church. A team of lawyers will continue to seek a solution with the land authorities and the Ministry of Urban Planning to plan the rebuilding of parts of the church.

A lawyer in the team of advisers that follows-up the case for the Sudanese Church of Christ, Dimas James Marjan, described the material losses as being huge.

He told Radio Dabanga: “The removal process was not done by legal means and confirms that we will resort to the judiciary in order to get compensation for the losses.”

The concerned authorities should have issued a written legal warning. “That can be affixed to the door in event of the absence of a person in the building, and a known time limit, before launching the removal.”


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