Numerous church buildings in Sudan have been demolished by the authorities
“They told me I must co-operate with them in giving them the names of Muslims who have changed their religion, and they asked me about the whereabouts of my friend, a guy who was a Muslim and became a Christian.” A Christian man who fled Sudan in 2013 described how the authorities there are trying to track down Christian converts from Islam. Officials threatened to kill him for refusing to divulge names.
The persecution of apostates, who are legally punishable by death in Sudan, is only one part of a targeted and ruthless campaign being waged by the Islamist government against the country’s Christian minority. Sudanese Christians have been arrested, interrogated and detained without charge; churches are being demolished and Christian institutions closed; and Christian literature has been seized. A media drive against alleged “Christianisation” led to the deportation of numerous foreign Christian workers. The government has said that it will not grant any more licences for new church buildings.
President Omar al-Bashir has made clear his intention to make Sudan a fully Islamic state, and since the secession of the mainly Christian South Sudan in 2011, the process of Islamisation has accelerated. Although a strict version of sharia is already in force, the new constitution is expected further to limit religious freedom.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians from South Sudan, many of whom were driven from their homes by decades of civil war (1983-2005), are effectively being forced out of the country by government intimidation and harassment. But many lack the money or resources to move their families and possessions to South Sudan. Hostility towards any remaining Christian presence in Sudan is growing, and some observers believe that the government’s goal may be to eradicate Christianity from the country altogether.
Government forces have also been targeting the Nuba Mountains near the border with South Sudan, which has one of the largest Christian populations in the country. The purpose of their brutal air and ground campaign appears to be to “cleanse” the region of its non-Arabs and non-Muslims. Thousands have fled their homes to escape the violence and are now stuck in crowded refugee camps in the South.