Sudanese pastor sentenced to one month in prison

29/04/2022 Sudan (International Christian Concern)Earlier this week, the ICC reported that Islamic extremists attacked a church in central Sudan. The militants injured the minister, Pastor Estefanos, and beat three other women in the congregation as the church gathered for a Palm Sunday service.

One of the perpetrators was a police officer who had previously filed a valid complaint and a public order charge against Pastor Estefanos. At the time of the attack, Pastor Estefanos had a court hearing scheduled for Monday, April 25 due to the police officer’s charges.

Sadly, Pastor Estefanos was sentenced to one month in prison during Monday’s hearings. Judge Awad Ibrahim Kury, who is Muslim, found him guilty of disturbing public order under Article 69 of Sudan’s 1991 penal code. His prison term began on April 25.

Pastor Estefanos’ lawyer, Shanabo Awad, told news sources, “This decision is not fair and my client is innocent.”

The imprisoned Christian leader’s church has long been harassed by Muslim extremists. Church leaders were arrested and questioned in February after Muslim extremists were upset by the presence of their worship building and locked it down on February 21. Dalman Hassan, an evangelist arrested on February 27 and released with the church pastor later. day, said Muslims were accusing church members of hostility to Islam by holding rallies on Friday, the Muslim day of the mosque prayer.

After two years of religious freedom gains in Sudan following the end of the Islamist dictatorship under former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the specter of state-sponsored persecution has returned with a coup military on October 25, 2021.

After Bashir was ousted from 30 years of power in April 2019, the civilian-military transitional government managed to overturn some provisions of Sharia (Islamic law). He banned the labeling of any religious group as “infidels” and thus repealed apostasy laws that made abandoning Islam punishable by death.

With the October 25 coup, Christians in Sudan fear the return of the most repressive and harsh aspects of Islamic law. Abdalla Hamdok, who had led a transitional government as prime minister from September 2019, was held under house arrest for nearly a month before being released and reinstated under a power-sharing deal. tenuous power in November.

Hamdock had faced rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist ‘deep state’ from Bashir’s regime – the same deep state that is believed to have rooted out the transitional government in the coup of October 25.

Persecution of Christians by non-state actors continued before and after the coup. In Open Doors’ 2022 global watchlist of countries where it is hardest to be a Christian, Sudan remained at 13th, where it ranked the previous year, as attacks by actors non-state laws were continuing and that religious freedom reforms at the national level were not enacted locally.

Sudan had dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in six years when it first ranked 13th on the 2021 Global Watch List. The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report says that conditions have improved somewhat with the decriminalization of apostasy and a halt to the demolition of churches, but that conservative Islam still dominates society. Christians still face discrimination, including problems obtaining licenses to build churches.

In 2019, the US State Department removed Sudan from the list of countries of particular concern (CPC) that commit or condone “systematic, continuing, and gross violations of religious freedom” and upgraded it to a list monitoring. The Department of State removed Sudan from the Special Watch List in December 2020. Sudan had previously been designated as a CPC from 1999 to 2018.

Sudan’s Christian population is estimated at 2 million, or 4.5% of the total population of over 43 million.

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