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Another Church Building Set Ablaze in Sudan

Posted by on February 19, 2021 — Drop A Comment


JUBA, South Sudan , February 18, 2021
(Morning Star News ) – The ninth
church building in two years to be set
ablaze in Sudan was torched last
month, sources said.
Suspected Muslim extremists set fire
to the Sudanese Church of Christ
(SCOC) building in the rural Tambul
area of Al Jazirah state southeast of
Khartoum on Jan. 3, said the Rev.
Kuwa Shamal, head of mission for the
SCOC.
Hate messages against Christians
circulated on social media in the area
in the weeks leading up to the arson,
according to local church leaders.
Jubrial Tutu, pastor of the SCOC
church in Tambul, described the arson
as direct persecution of Christians.
Pastor Shamal said Sunday worshipers
at the SCOC church had left the
building a few minutes before the
arson attack. Serving congregations of
various denominations, the building
was the only worship hall in the
Tambul area, he said.
“They targeted the church because
they do not want to see any sign of the
cross in the area,” Pastor Shamal told
Morning Star News.
Several social media posts have urged
Muslims in Sudan to resist any church
officials’ attempts to obtain approval
for land for church buildings.
“In every city or village where Muslims
live, they should not allow anything that
belongs to infidels such as church
buildings to be there,” one
commentator posted in January.
Another urged Muslims in Tambul to
block the existence of any church
building.
“When you build a church in Tambul…
do you want the area to be a disgraced
place?” he wrote.
The burning of the church building in
Tambul marks the ninth time a
Christian worship hall has been set
ablaze since 2019, according to Demas
Mragan, a Christian rights and aid
advocate in Khartoum.
Muslim extremists who burned down a
church’s worship places in Omdurman
five times since January 2019
threatened to kill congregation
members if they put up another
temporary structure to continue
worshipping, sources said. In
December police arrested nine of the
14 radical Muslims who burned down
the temporary worship structures of
the SCOC in the Dar El-Salam area of
Omdurman, across the Nile River from
Khartoum, said the attorney
representing the Christians.
Saying they didn’t want a Christian
presence in the area, the extremists
had burned down the structures on
Jan. 19, 2019, and in 2020 on Jan. 4,
Jan. 19, Jan. 28, and Aug. 7, sources
said. The church decided to report the
attacks to police after the Aug. 7 arson
in spite of the threats.
When police refused to file a case, the
church hired the attorney whose court
actions resulted in police registering
the case earlier this month and
arresting the nine suspects.
While a new transitional government
has promoted religious rights following
the deposing of former President Omar
al-Bashir in 2019, Christians in Sudan
are still facing challenges when they
try to obtain land for new church
buildings, rights advocate Mragan said.
Hard-line Muslims are pressuring
officials to keep Christians from
obtaining land for churches in
predominantly Muslim areas, he said.
Mragan said Christians who hoped for
equal treatment from the new
government have been disappointed as
officials still favor Muslims.
“The government just wanted to get its
name removed from the list of
countries that violate religious
freedoms,” he said.
In light of advances in religious
freedom since Bashir was ousted in
April 2019, the U.S. State Department
announced on Dec. 20, 2019 that
Sudan had been removed from the list
of Countries of Particular Concern
(CPC) that engage in or tolerate
“systematic, ongoing and egregious
violations of religious freedom” and
was upgraded to a watch list. Sudan
had been designated a CPC by the U.S.
State Department since 1999.
The transitional government sworn in
on Sept. 8, 2019 led by Prime Minister
Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, has
been tasked with governing during a
transition period of 39 months. It faces
the challenges of rooting out
longstanding corruption and an
Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s
30 years of power.
After Bashir was deposed, military
leaders initially formed a military
council to rule the country, but further
demonstrations led them to accept a
transitional government of civilians and
military figures, with a predominantly
civilian government to be
democratically elected in three years.
Christians were expected to have
greater voice under the new
administration.
Following the secession of South
Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to
adopt a stricter version of sharia
(Islamic law) and recognize only
Islamic culture and the Arabic
language. Church leaders said
Sudanese authorities demolished or
confiscated churches and limited
Christian literature on the pretext that
most Christians had left the country
following South Sudan’s secession.
In April 2013 the then-Sudanese
Minister of Guidance and Endowments
announced that no new licenses would
be granted for building new churches
in Sudan, citing a decrease in the
South Sudanese population. Sudan
since 2012 had expelled foreign
Christians and bulldozed church
buildings. Besides raiding Christian
bookstores and arresting Christians,
authorities threatened to kill South
Sudanese Christians who did not leave
or cooperate with them in their effort to
find other Christians.
Sudan ranked 13 on Christian
support organization Open Doors’ 2021
World Watch List of the countries
where it is most difficult to be a
Christian.


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