There remain concerns that the positive changes experienced by Sudan’s Christians after the ousting of Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist government in April 2019 are being undone. A military coup in October 2021 appears to be leading to a reassertion of Islamist laws, and has caused the postponement of an election scheduled for November 2022.
In June 2022 four Muslim-background believers in Zalingei, Darfur region, were charged with apostasy in accordance with Article 126 of the Criminal Code. Yet Article 126 was abolished in 2020 as part of the package of reforms designed to uphold the principle of religious freedom. Although the case was subsequently dismissed, the fact that such charges were brought indicates renewed boldness among Islamists.
In April 2022 a pastor in Gezira State was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment for “disturbing the peace” after being attacked by Islamists.
Under President al-Bashir (in office 1989-2019) the Christian minority, estimated at 3%, had suffered fierce persecution. In 1994 two Christians from a tribal group that had converted from Islam in the early 1970s were executed by crucifixion for apostasy.
The transitional government – headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok – that replaced al-Bashir made notable reforms, including the abolition of the apostasy law in July 2020, followed two months later by the separation of religion and state, thus ending 30 years of Islamic rule and Islam’s status as the official religion.
Islamists repeatedly called for the overthrow of the transitional government in an angry backlash against these reforms.
On 25 October 2021 the Sudanese military, headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, arrested Prime Minister Hamdok. The military then reinstated Hamdok, but his resignation in January 2022 made extended military rule and a return to Islamist governance more likely.
Ask the Lord to guide Sudan’s Christians to contribute wisely to Sudan’s welfare as they adjust to uncertain times. Pray for just, stable governance, and that the authorities will resist the calls for reimposition of a stricter form of Islam.