Sudan outlaws construction of new Christian churches

The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and religious Endowments announced that his government will no longer issue permits for the construction of new churches in the largely Muslim country. Minister Shalil Abdallah told the Khartoum based El Jareeda newspaper recently that the existing churches are sufficient for the remaining Christians in Sudan. The persecution of Christians led to the secession of South Sudan in 2011, and armed conflict between the formerly conjoined countries has since resulted. Abadallah explained his decision in that that majority of the inhabitants of South Sudan are Christians, while the number of Christians in Sudan is small.
 
Rev. Kori El Ramli, the Secretary-General of the Sudan Council of Churches, told Radio Tamazuj that Abadallah's decision violates the 2005 Interim Constitution of Sudan. "Yes, we are a minority, but we have freedom of worship and belief just like the rest of the Sudanese, as long as we are Sudanese nationals like them", he explained. The pastor criticized the recent demolition of the Sudanese Church of Christ, built in 1983 at El Izba, north of Khartoum. Most of the congregants of the Sudanese Church of Christ are impoverished native Nuba people from South Kordofan.
 
In an April 2013 report, Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted a significant increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians by Sudan. It also reported that systematic targeting of Nuba and other ethnic groups suggests the resurgence of an official policy of Islamization and Arabization. Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan was designated a Country of Particular Concern by the US State Department in 1999. In April 2013, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list. 


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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