Christians grow anxious in "100 percent" Islamic Sudan

Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:34pm EST
 
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By Ulf Laessing

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - When Pastor Kamis went to visit his small church in the Sudanese capital just before Christmas last year, he found a pile of rubble and the remains of a single blue wall.

Hours earlier, authorities had sent in a bulldozer and workers backed by police to demolish the Africa Inland church, which used to lie in a slum suburb of Khartoum.

The structure was one of several small churches that the government has knocked down over the past few months, shocking Christians who worry they will not be able to practice their faith in majority-Muslim Sudan now that the country's south - where most follow Christianity or traditional animist beliefs - has seceded.

"The government says the land was owned by some businessman, but I think they destroyed our church because they want to target Christians," said Kamis, a native of South Sudan, which split away in July 2011.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a "100 percent" Islamic constitution now that the South has split off.

The government says the new constitution will guarantee religious freedom, but many Christians are wary. They say authorities started a crackdown in December and it has been getting worse.

Last week, security agents raided the library of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, founded by missionaries in central Khartoum more than a hundred years ago, seizing all books to check on their content, church sources told Reuters.

"They took hundreds of books and the entire archive, not just religious literature," said a church source, who like most others interviewed for this article asked for anonymity or to be identified by only their first and last name for fear of arrest.   Continued...

 
A South Sudanese worshipper arrives to attend Sunday prayers in Baraka Parish church at Hajj Yusuf, on the outskirts of Khartoum, February 10, 2013. Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a "100 percent" Islamic constitution now that the South has split off. The government says the new constitution will guarantee religious freedom, but many Christians are wary. They say authorities started a crackdown in December and it has been getting worse. Picture taken February 10, 2013. To match Feature SUDAN-CHRISTIANS/ REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah