What does persecution look like in Sudan?
Persecution of Christians remains at a high level in Sudan, and there are fears this will worsen amid the ongoing unrest.
After Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019, Sudan's transitional government introduced exciting changes to the legal framework guaranteeing basic human rights for all Sudanese, no matter their ethnicity, gender or religion. However, mass protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok in January 2022, and there are fears that Sudan will return to the authoritarian years of the former president. This could undo the positive steps made towards religious freedom under the transitional government. Although the death penalty for leaving Islam has now been abolished, there are fears that this punishment could be reinstated.
Social attitudes towards Christians have not changed. This is especially the case in areas outside the capital, Khartoum. Christians are still vulnerable to extreme persecution from both their communities and their own families, particularly if they have converted from Islam. Converts may face sexual assault and domestic violence in their homes, as well as being vulnerable to imprisonment and violence. The government hasn’t put real protections in place for Christians and other religious minorities. Since the military coup, four churches have been forced to close, and even with the change in official status, confiscated churches and lands have yet to be returned to their Christian owners. Trying to build new churches is still extremely difficult.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The most vulnerable Christians are those who have converted from Islam – this was once punishable by death in Sudan. Although the death penalty for leaving Islam has now been abolished, there are fears that it could be reinstated.
Geographically, pressure and violence towards Christians has always been more intense outside the capital, Khartoum. In Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile regions of the country, where armed conflict is ongoing, violence against Christians is particularly serious.
“There are not equal rights for Christians to build their churches, the way Muslims have the full right to build their mosques.”Abdul is a Sudanese Christian
What has changed this year?
In October 2021, the military effectively conducted a coup that ended the power sharing agreement with the civilian members of the transitional government. That was followed by mass protests in the country, particularly the capital city. Protestors demanded the end of the military rule. Power is firmly held in the hands of the military. Many believe that Sudan will return to the authoritarian years of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir. This could undo the positive steps made towards religious freedom under the transitional government and may intensify the persecution against Christians. In August 2022, the government established a community police which resembles the disbanded morality police.
In general, persecution of Christians has intensified in the reporting period, both in terms of violence and in pressures faced in various spheres of life.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Sudan?
Open Doors works through local church partners in Sudan to strengthen persecuted Christians through persecution survival training, discipleship training and economic empowerment projects.
How can you pray for Sudan?
- Please pray for peace to prevail in Sudan and that God will establish rulers who enforce lasting respect for human rights
- Pray for church leaders engaging with their Muslim counterparts – for constructive dialogue on how to bring true change at a community level
- Pray that believers from Muslim backgrounds will grow in their knowledge of Christ and have wisdom to speak courageously about Christ.
Dear Father, we lift up Sudan and pray for stability in the region. Establish a government that respects equality and religious freedom. Heal those affected by violence and persecution. Build a resilient church in Sudan that stands strong in the face of persecution. Protect and bless Open Doors partners who strive to make this happen. Intervene to reinstate progress towards a fairer, safer society in Sudan. Amen.