In 2014, Sudanese authorities sentenced Meriam Yahia Ibrahim to 100 lashes and death for adultery and apostasy after she married a Christian man and refused to renounce her faith in Christ. Authorities later released her, but Sudanese Christians still face the fear of torture, arrest, and death. The country’s transitional government and a pro-democracy group agreed recently to form a religious freedom commission to respond.
Antagonism toward Christians took hold in Sudan during former President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year reign, which began in 1989. He introduced Islamic law in 1991, sparking rebellions in Sudan’s primarily Christian southern states. Government forces arrested and tortured political and religious opposition and dropped thousands of bombs on civilians in the area following South Sudan’s declaration of independence in 2011.
The International Criminal Court indicted Bashir on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2013, and a military coup ousted him last year. But the transitional government and its Islamic supporters have committed similar atrocities. In June 2019, Sudanese doctors estimated that more than 100 people died and 500 were injured after military forces whipped and shot at protesters in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
Open Doors USA’s World Watch List currently ranks Sudan as the seventh-worst country for persecution of Christians. But in the latest round of peace talks, the transitional government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North, a rebel group from Christian regions in southern Sudan known as the Two Areas, announced via Facebook a resolution to establish a commission for religious freedom.
Yasir Arman, the rebel group’s deputy leader, expressed hope for Christians during a news conference on May 21: “Today, we have agreed to establish the religious freedom commission because the Two Areas have a considerable number of Sudanese Christians. So this is an important issue that has been resolved.” —Brooke Nevins