In Sudan, Christians fear return to state persecution

September 8, 2022 by Noah Cassetto in Africa

Sudan is potentially growing more dangerous for Christians. As protests against the military government increase, the government has authorized increasingly violent measures to quell unrest. Over 100 protesters have been killed and hundreds more injured by police/military forces.  

Until its overthrow in April 2019, then-President Omar al-Bashir’s government was notorious for its human rights abuses, including the persecution of Christians. Al-Bashir’s rule saw allegations of genocide in Darfur, the secession of South Sudan and abuse of power. After a civilian uprising that overthrew the dictatorship, Bashir has remained imprisoned, charged for the killing of protesters, money laundering and corruption. 

For nearly three years, Sudan seemed to be inching toward a restoration of international relations and respect for human rights—the civilian-led transitional government promised to hold elections and undo al-Bashir’s work. They even got rid of Sudan’s official apostasy laws, under which converts from Islam could be imprisoned, or worse. Many of Bashir’s government staff had been removed from office. Sudan went from No. 4 on Open Doors World Watch List to No. 13.  

In October 2021, however, a military coup overthrew the transitional government and installed General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the former Chief of Staff in al-Bashir’s army. In addition to the 100 protesteor deaths, Burhan and his military government have reinstalled many of al-Bashir’s supporters into government.  

There have even been talks of the release of al-Bashir. 

The news is discouraging for human rights and religious freedom advocates. Jo Newhouse*, Open Doors’ spokesperson for Sub-Saharan Africa, explains: “These developments are extremely concerning. Sudan’s transitional government made great progress towards official recognition of people’s human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief. Although there was yet some way to go in ensuring respect for these rights in society, we are very concerned over the reinstatement and growing influence of Islamist elements in government, and the regression in the respect for human rights this has led to.”  

Violence around the country has also reignited in West Darfur and South Kordofam, 140 people have been killed in June 2022 alone. Nearly 200 more have been injured.  

Sudan is ranked No. 13 on the World Watch List. There are less that 2 million Christians in the country of 45 million and there is particular concern for the safety of churches. The government instability adds to an already-dangerous situation for Christians: many may be rejected by their families for converting to Christianity and social attitudes toward Christians are suspicious, if not hateful.  

“We call on the international Christian community to remain in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Sudan,” said Newhouse. 

Stand with your family in prayer

To pray for believers in Sudan and other countries, download the new Open Doors Prayer App.

Download now

Pray for our family in Sudan as they grapple with an increasingly hostile government. Pray the Lord would keep them out of harm’s way and safe from violence. Pray for peace in Sudan. Let’s boldly ask God to change the hearts of government officials, that they would be tolerant of Christians and those who disagree with them.