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02/18/2021 Sudan (International Christian Concern) – A history textbook included in a new Sudanese school curriculum has sparked outrage for containing a picture of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”.  Islamic religious groups have launched a campaign against the “heretical image”, creating an uproar that caused Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to freeze the controversial courses.

A BBC report states: “Last month, at Friday prayers in a mosque in the capital, Khartoum, an imam known for his support of Bashir passionately shouted “Allah, Allah, Allah” before encouraging the male worshippers to scream and cry over the inclusion of the famous Michelangelo painting The Creation of Adam in a post-revolution history textbook.”

Tensions over curriculum are largely due to the recent changes in Sudan’s political atmosphere. Decades of extremist ideology including a harsh enforcement of sharia law has given way to a new transitional government made up of coalition groups. “The row over what the next generation should be learning has exposed tensions at the heart of the new political settlement,” said Sudanese journalist Zeinab Mohammed Salih, “The government appears to be more concerned with being in harmony with more conservative views rather than becoming a representative government that reflects the diversity of the country”.

Omer al-Qarray, overseer of the National Center for Curriculum and Educational Research, has received death threats for his part in making the new textbooks which has since caused him to resign. “I find myself unable to proceed with a government brought by a popular revolution but… which surrendered to the pressures of the remnants of the defunct regime,” Omer al-Qarray wrote in his resignation letter.

The Creation of Adam, part of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, illustrates the narrative of God giving life to Adam in the book of genesis. While Sudan is a majority (90%) Muslim nation, the small Christian population has experienced increasing religious freedom since new government leadership in 2019. According to Open Doors, there is no longer a death penalty imposed on converts to Christianity, however believers still experience discrimination and violence due to their faith. Please pray for the church in Sudan to continue to grow despite hardship, and for government leaders to keep taking steps towards religious freedom and protection for all of its citizens.

For interviews please contact Alison Garcia at [email protected].