Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
Since the 2019 coup that ousted Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years, the situation for Sudanese Christians has somewhat improved in the sense that the government has changed its policy of considering Christians enemies and agents of the West. However, there are systematic issues that affect Christians. First, while government policy has changed, social attitudes about Christians have not, especially outside Khartoum. There, the culture and surrounding society are still majority-Muslim and suspicious of any other faith. Second, the government has not put real protections into place for Christians and other religious minorities. For example, even with the change in official status, confiscated churches and lands have yet to be returned to their Christian owners; and trying to build new churches is still extremely difficult. And finally, there are still high-level military leaders who have slowed reform.
“There are many churches who applied [to build] more than five years ago and some others two years ago, at the beginning of the current transitional government, hoping to be treated equal [to Muslims]. … The minister of religious affairs spoke on TV and at other events and said that Christians would be able to build new churches; however there is always contradiction between his words and real life.”
Persecution remains incredibly high in Sudan and hasn’t changed much in the last year. Churches were burned down and Christians reported being beaten or attacked during the World Watch List reporting period. Ongoing ethnic violence in the Darfur region also worries many observers who wonder if the transitional government can actually protect minorities. While the positive developments that occurred after al-Bashir’s ouster are worth celebrating, it remains to be seen how much change will actually take place in reality. Christians are still at significant risk from society at large, particularly if they have converted from Islam. Additionally, armed groups who were part of the former dictatorship continue to be active, posing a constant threat to Christians.
Christians outside of the capital city of Khartoum remain most at risk. But all of Sudanese society is still largely opposed to public expressions of Christianity, and despite gains at the national level, reform can be hard to come by at the local level. Christians who convert from Islam face additional risks from family and community.
Through partnerships with the local church, Open Doors equips church leaders in Sudan for various aspects of ministry, supports community development and provides practical assistance to persecuted Christians.