The warring parties in Sudan have agreed to a seven-day ceasefire that began on the evening of 22 May – although reports indicated that fighting continued in some areas.
The conflict between Sudanese military and paramilitary groups began on 15 April. Although this conflict is not specifically anti-Christian in nature, there have been several reports of attacks on churches and church leaders in this Muslim-majority country.
In one such attack, masked gunmen raided a church building in Omdurman, a city on the opposite side of the River Nile to the capital Khartoum.
The gunmen fired at church leaders and other worshippers, severely injuring five. They insulted the Christians, calling them infidels and “sons of dogs”, telling them they should convert to Islam.
Sudan has been governed by sharia (Islamic law) since 1983, and is one of only a few countries in modern times where the death penalty for apostasy has been carried out – in 1985 against an Islamic theologian who had urged a more liberal interpretation of the Quran.
In 1994 two Christians from a tribal group that had converted from Islam in the early 1970s were executed by crucifixion.
Recent reforms introduced by a transitional government led to hopes that these days had passed, but in 2022 four Christian converts were charged with apostasy, despite the apostasy law having been formally abolished two years earlier. Thankfully the case against the four men was dismissed.
The recent violence has laid bare the Islamist attitudes that prevail in Sudan. No wonder that many believers have fled for refuge in neighbouring countries such as Egypt and South Sudan.
We must pray for an end to the violence in Sudan, but pray especially for Christians who remain at particular risk.