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A look at persecution occurring worldwide, particularly in Sudan .

Sudanese Christians find freedom here

William F. O’Brien
The Edmond Sun

University of Oklahoma Political Science Professor Allen Hertzke has written extensively on the human rights movement and how seemingly dissimilar groups of Americans have come together to lobby their government in support of such rights. In his most recent book, “Freeing God’s Children, The Unlikely Alliance For Global Human Rights,” Hertzke documents how Catholics, Evangelic Christians and Jews have worked to insure that the plight of persecuted religious groups in foreign nations is addressed in American foreign policy. He also makes clear that thousands of people around the world are in fact being persecuted because they are men and women of faith.
In a surprising numbers of nations Christians and other believers are imprisoned, tortured and subject to state sanctioned harassment because of their religious beliefs. One of the oldest sections of the City of Paris is Montmartre , which was the sight where Christians were martyred in the French capital in the early centuries of the Christian era.
But as Hertzke makes clear, Christian martyrdom is not something of the distant past, and more Christians have died because of their faith in the last century than in any other time in history. The world’s remaining communist regimes are very aware of the role that Pope John Paul II played in the destruction of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union , and they repress their Christian communities with a relentless ferocity as a result. But according to Hertzke, the most vigorous oppression of Christians today occurs in lands ruled by fundamentalist Muslims. And their repressive measures are also visited upon fellow Muslims who did not share their fundamentalist views. While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ostensibly an American ally, it is ruled by Wahhabi fundamentalists who sentenced a Filipino Christian to death for performing a secret Christian ceremony for several Filipino workers in the Kingdom. According to Hertzke, the sentence was commuted as a result of worldwide protests.
Sudan is one of the largest states on the African continent, and its population is composed of primarily Muslim Arabs in its Northern provinces and Christian Africans in its southern region.
There are African Sudanese men and women who had been sold into slavery by their Arab countrymen whose freedom has been bought by American religious organizations who have raised money for that purpose. Sudanese Christians have been subject to torture, imprisonment and forced conversions to Islam by the government of Sudan , which has also imposed an Islamic legal code on the country that mandates the amputation of hands and feet for certain offenses.
The government’s actions have served to reinvigorate a war for independence on the part of the Southern provinces of Sudan . While the international media ignored the turmoil in Sudan , Hertzke explains how that it was Christian churches and aid workers who brought the world’s attention to what was happening there.
Thousands of Sudanese Christians have been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commission On Refugees, and some of them have been granted asylum in the United States .