Church in Khartoum Destroyed Despite Pending Court Case
Sudanese Government Continues Long History of Religious Persecution
02/13/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the government of Sudan demolished a church belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Churches (SPEC) in Elhaj Yousif, North Khartoum on Sunday, February 11. The government also confiscated all Bibles and other church belongings. The pastor in charge of the church, Rev. Abdul Harim, confirmed the incident.
He said, “Today the government ordered the forcible demolition and takeover of our church, despite a pending court case where we are contending against attempted re-possession of the church compound to a private Muslim developer. The bulldozers and a contingent of police officers stormed our church immediately after our morning service and started taking furniture, chairs, and Bibles outside and then broke down the church building.”
Rev. Kuwa Shamal, the head of outreach for the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), lamented that the existence of Christian churches in Sudan is at risk. “This is a rogue policy by the government and we stand with our brothers to condemn the demolition. Church work in Khartoum is facing a serious setback because the Islamic government doesn’t want us to preach the Gospel and worship freely. This church has been on the disputed plot for over 30 years. Where was the owner all that time?”
Pastor Yahia Abdelrahim, who was evicted from his church-owned home in Omdurman on August 15, 2017, disclosed his frustration to ICC. “Evictions and demolitions of church properties must be stopped. If there is a court case pending judgment, why did the government move in to bring down the place of worship and make away with church belongings? We as the Sudan Christian leaders are very upset by this heinous act and we pray that that this will end someday. We are not cowed at all and we shall continue to lift the name of the Lord in Sudan.”
The demolition comes just a week after seven church leaders of the SPEC were fined for protesting against the state confiscation of their churches. The government of Sudan has been arresting Christians and handing over church compounds to individual Muslim businessmen who claim ownership of the plots. Rev. Kuwa Shamal and five other leaders of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) have also been engaged in a court case with the government after they were demanded to hand over church leadership to the government.
“There are many cases in court and many Christians in jail because of the struggle for freedom of worship and rightful ownership of church land. We have been appearing in court for four times now to refuse transference of our church ownership and leadership to a state body and the next hearing will be on March 6. We hope the Lord will favor us and our plea granted,” Rev. Shamal said.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Nathan Johnson, stated, “The government of Sudan has long desired an end to Christianity within its borders. It has worked tirelessly to destroy all traces of the Christian faith and worship. Authorities continue to harass and persecute Christian leaders and followers on a daily basis. These human rights violations must be stopped and the leaders of this government must be held accountable.”