Al-Bashir's Campaign to Establish Sudan's Purely Islamic Identity
William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa
International Christian Concern
After months being largely ignored by the international community, Sudan has finally been called out for its repeated human rights abuses against Christians. The Canadian federal government condemned Sudan for continuing to ignore international human rights standards, specifically highlighted the Khartoum government's treatment of Christian communities.
After South Sudan split away from Sudan in 2011, Sudan's leader President Al-Bashir promised to make what is left of Sudan "100 percent" Islamic. Unfortunately, for Christians still living in Sudan, this was not an empty promise. Since Al-Bashir's declaration, the Sudanese government has ratcheted up its enforcement of Sharia law and has started attacking the Christian community on multiple fronts.
Censored: Christian Literature
On February 18, Sudanese security officials raided the Evangelical Literature Center located in Khartoum. According to reports, officials seized Christian books, movies and other media from the center. "They took everything - not a single sheet of paper was left on the shelves," a church leader told Morning Star News. "They took cinema, old movies and tapes and archives. They filled a big truck with our stuff from the ELC."
When Christians at the Center demanded an explanation, officials said they were following orders to confiscate all Christian literature.
According to a source at Morning Star News, security personnel beat and arrested a church leader for taking photos of the incident. The location of this church leader is still unknown, but many presume he is being detained by the Sudanese government for attempting to document the raid on the Center.
No Foreign Christians Allowed
On another front, the Sudanese government has deported scores of Christian foreigners. Among these foreigners was an American mission worker named Christine.
In 1990, Christine helped found a Bible school that helped gather and care for street children. On April 21 last year, the school was attacked and damaged by Muslim radicals. The local church partnered with the school initiating a court case seeking redress for the damage caused to the school facilities.
At some point during the case, information regarding Christine and her ministry was leaked to the local security agency. Because Christine is a Christian foreigner, security officials began questioning workers of the school about her involvement in the school. These officials expressed their distaste for missionaries in the country and put the school's curriculum and employees under the microscope.
After several days of investigation, Christine was called into the security agency's headquarters. Following a lengthy interrogation, the security officials confiscated five cars that were under Christine's care, an unknown amount of money and thereafter forcibly deported her on February 5.
After deporting Christine, the security agency closed down the school because of its connection to Christianity. "This is quite a sad and dehumanizing act. We are now in a very critical situation," a source told ICC.
To round out Sudan's newest assault on Christianity, the government has been attacking the symbolic center of Christianity: the church building itself. Claiming churches were built illegally, the government has closed down and destroyed several churches to start out 2013.
In many cases, authorities claim either the churches were built on properties not belonging to Christian fellowships or that the fellowships built the churches without proper permits. Some Christian fellowships concede their churches were built without formal paperwork, but they claim this is a result of the government's unwillingness to grant permits or licenses to build churches.
This situation was made more problematic when South Sudan broke away from Sudan. People from South Sudanese ethnic groups, who make up the majority of Christians in Sudan, are now considered foreigners and are required to get new permits for existing churches. The government has been just as unwilling to grant these permits.
"Christians in the north are compromised because they are no longer respected. They cannot even celebrate Christmas anymore," Daniel Deng Bul, the archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan told the Jakarta Globe.
The government of Sudan denies discriminating against Christians. "All religions can practice their faith in total freedom," a senior official of Al-Bashir's National Congress Party claimed. "There are no restrictions at all." As stories of Christian persecution continue to come to light, this statement by Sudan increasingly looks like a bald face lie.
Christians living in Sudan are praying for assistance in these dire circumstances. Without international attention, Al-Bashir will likely continue to accelerate his plans to make Sudan a purely Islamic country. Christian literature will be censored, Christian institutions will be closed down and churches will be destroyed unless action is taken. Once these things are gone, what will Al-Bashir do with Christians themselves? We can only pray it doesn't get that far.
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-AfricaAsia@persecution.org
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