Officials in the Sudan, the almost completely Muslim remainder of the nation from which a Christian and tribal South Sudan broke away from recently, say they won’t be issuing any more new licenses for church buildings.
They explain that what with the “arrests, detentions and deportations” of Christians, some of the existing buildings already are empty.
The announcement came just recently from Al-Fatih Taj El-sir, the minister of guidance and endowments for the nation of Sudan. It was documented in a report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
“The minister explained this decision by claiming that no new churches had been established since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 due to a lack of worshipers and a growth in the number of abandoned church buildings. He added that there was therefore no need for new churches, but said that the freedom to worship is guaranteed in Sudan,” CSW said.
The ministry, however, explained that the announcement comes against a backdrop of a massive repression campaign against Christians in the portion of the old Sudan that now is almost entirely Islamist.
Just before the Sudanese announcement, CWS noted that Catholic priest Father Maurino and two expatriate missionaries were deported.
“The two missionaries, one from France and the other from Egypt, worked with children in Khartoum. According to Fr. Maurino, no reason was given for the deportations,” CSW reported.
But the goal isn’t hard to determine, with Maurino explaining that Christians are in trouble in Sudan since the government sought to Islamize the country and eliminate the Christian presence.
CSW’s own documentation gives evidence, since 2012, of “an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians and of those suspected of having links to them, particularly in Khartoum and Omodorum, Sudan’s largest cities. There has also been a systematic targeting of members of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, lending apparent credence to the notion of the resurgence of an official agenda of Islamisation and Arabisation.
“The campaign of repression [has] continued into 2013, with foreign Christians being arrested and deported at short notice, and those from Sudan facing arrest, detention and questioning by the security services, as well as the confiscation of property such as mobile phones, identity cards and laptops. In addition to the arrests and deportations, local reports cite a media campaign warning against ‘Christianisation’,” CSW reported.
In February alone at least 55 Christians linked to the Evangelical Church in Khartoum were detained without charge, the report said.
Andrew Johnston, CSW’s advocacy director, said, “The recent spike in religious repression in Sudan is deeply worrying. The minister’s claims of guaranteeing freedom to worship are at odds with regular reports of Christians being harassed arrested and in some cases expelled from the country at short notice. We urge the Sudanese government to end its campaign of harassment against the Christian community and respect the right of all of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief, as outlined in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is a signatory.”