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Sudan bans building of churches

14 September 2014, 07:43

Sudan, a country of 38 million citizens (as at 2013), has only known peace for 11years (1972 – 1983) in her 58 years of gaining independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt. Of the 47 years of conflict, two civil wars have taken place and they are responsible for the loss of two and half million lives in a total of 40 years. The cause: religion.

Despite seceding from the Christian South in 2011, the North has continued in its persecution of Christians and President Omar al-Bashir has not hidden his intention to make Sudan an Islamic state, even if it means ‘atrocious’ persecutions of Christians. Though a strict version of sharia law is in effect, the constitution still recognizes religious freedom; provided you don’t convert from Islam, meaning there’s a systemic violation of the freedom of religion.

A prominent case in May, 2014, caused international outrage as a Sudanese court sentenced to death Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag death for apostasy (simply put – converting from Islam to Christianity). Meriam, 27, was raised a Christian despite her father being Muslim; and was detained in prison where she was delivered of her second child, a daughter. Her plight shed light on some of the practices of the Sudanese government; and she was finally able to leave the country, following her release from prison, after negotiations made by the Italian government.

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July 12, 2014, the al-Bashir regime’s ruthless campaign took a new twist by announcing through Shalil Abdullah, the minister for Guidance and Religious Endowments, that there would be a ban on the construction of new churches. Abdullah argued that there was no need to grant plots of land for new churches since the existing ones were enough.

The general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, Rev. Kori Elramla Kori Kuku, said the government’s intentions were shocking and misleading. “We (Christians) have the right to have new plots of land and building of new churches,” he said. “We need the churches for the growing of Sudanese Christians.”

The human rights organization, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which works on behalf of persecuted Christians, also issued a statement, saying the continued practice of demolishing and confiscating church land constitutes a violation of the right of freedom of religion or belief; but will the Sudanese budge … History tells us, No.

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