Military Coup Threatens Religious Freedom in Sudan

10/29/2021 Sudan (International Christian Concern) – On Monday, October 25th, Sudan’s military dissolved its power-sharing government and detained civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, hindering the country’s progress towards a democratic transition.

Since then, protests have erupted in the streets of Sudan, with citizens largely demanding the resumption of the government’s transition to civilian rule. Reports estimate that eight people have been killed and at least 170 injured.

The coup has been met with widespread international condemnation, including the Biden administration suspending $700 million in financial assistance to the country.

For the 1.97 million Christians living in Sudan, the future is uncertain.

On Tuesday, the chief executive of Release International, Paul Robinson, warned that “a window of opportunity towards religious freedom in Sudan could be about to close”.

Sudan’s transitional constitution, adopted in 2019 after the coup that deposed strongman leader Omar al-Bashir, helped the country make significant strides towards a freer and more open society.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the transitional constitution was its lack of appeal to sharia law, which had previously laid the groundwork for al-Bashir to outlaw apostasy and criminalize blasphemy against Islam.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a D.C.-based government commission tasked with studying and advancing religious freedom around the world, visited Sudan in 2020. It met with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and determined that his government had “ended the former regime’s most egregious forms of religious repression and reaffirmed its commitment to substantive change.”

If the military remains in control, progress towards religious freedom in Sudan will likely be halted, if not reversed.

“We fear that a government controlled by the military will roll back all these constitutional changes, including guarantees of religious freedom said Open Doors’ senior analyst on freedom of religion in sub-Saharan Africa, Illia Djadi.

“The news is very disturbing,” added Yasin A, Open Doors’ Director for East Africa. “We call on Christians around the world to join us in praying for Sudan at this time. The country has come a long way since former dictator Omar al Bashir’s rule was ended. The risk of a military takeover will be a step backwards with potentially grave consequences for the church.”

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