Sudanese Government Strips Christian Community of Freedom to Worship
Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC) Appeals 2016 Seizure of Church
07/23/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that frustrations continued to mount last week as a result of the ongoing lawsuit against the Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC) in the capital city of Khartoum. The church has been prosecuted by three agents of the Islamic government of Sudan, Yougob Hammada Elnour, Angelo Ziaka and Elramara Kori, who are a part of the government’s committee that was established to oversee church activities in Sudan.
The leader of the Sudan Church of Christ, Reverend Ayoub Italian Tutu, Pastor Kuwa Shamal, and six other executive members attended the court hearing session with the hope of winning the appeal. They are trying to prevent the government from handing over ownership of their church to a state-sanctioned committee filed in 2016.
Kuwa Shamal, the head of the SCOC outreach department, told ICC, “Today, we, the Sudan Church of Christ executive committee, attended a court hearing of a case that began in 2016 when the government, that in the past demolished some of our churches, coerced us to surrender the leadership of our church to a government’s select committee.”
He continued, “We have been in and out of the courtroom over the past one year and it is tiresome, draining, and time-consuming. We are accused of derailing [the] government’s role of overseeing Christian churches in Sudan, disturbance of public peace, and erection of churches on government plots.”
The crackdown on the Christian faith in Sudan intensified in 2011 after South Sudan seceded. During that time, President Omar al-Bashir pledged to make Sudan a purely Islamic state by ridding it of Christianity. Christians make up approximately 20% of the Sudanese population, forming a religious minority group that has been persecuted at the hands of the Sharia-guided government.
Reverend Ayoub Italian Tutu, lamenting the state of Christianity in Sudan, said, “It is sad seeing the heinous conduct of the government that outrightly favors Islam over Christianity simply because we are a minority group. I am more disappointed to see a foundation of a mosque being erected on the piece of land where one of our church buildings stood before it was demolished. Justice has been denied and we feel hopeless. We do not see ourselves receiving the land back.”
While speaking with ICC, the lawyer representing the Sudan Church of Christ, Demas James, said, “Nothing much happened today at the hearing. We submitted more appeal files and the presiding judge scheduled another hearing on July 30.”
Nathan Johnson, ICCs Regional Manager for Africa, said, “It is terrible to see the Sudanese government continue to persecute its own people. They have worked tirelessly to end Christianity, both in their capital and broadly in Sudan. Without increased international pressure, they will continue to commit these heinous human rights violations.”
For interviews with Nathan Johnson, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org