A church raid in Darfur, Sudan, has led to four men being accused of apostasy – despite the law against converting from Islam being abolished.
In 2020, Sudan looked to be heading towards much greater religious freedom. The transitional government agreed to end 30 years of Islamic law – including scrapping the apostasy law, under which anyone renouncing Islam would be sentenced to death. Sudanese Christians and other commentators were cautiously optimistic that persecution against churches and believers would steadily improve.
However, a military coup in October 2021 was the first step in the re-Islamisation of Sudan – the latest example of which is a recent raid on a church building.
Four Christians were detained in the raid on the building, which belongs to a Baptist church in Zalingei, Darfur. Some Bibles were confiscated, along with some technical treatment.
All four Christians are young men who have converted from Islam. They were beaten and mistreated during questioning, before being released on the same day. A week later, the men were called to the police station to collect their belongings. Upon arrival, they were detained and questioned further about their Christian faith.
At this point, according to local believers, the four men were charged for apostasy under Penal Code Article 126, even though this article was abolished by the transitional government. The Christians were taken to Zalingei prison, and have been temporarily released after one of their relatives guaranteed bail.
This isn’t the end of the persecution that the men have faced. Following their release, the Baptist church and some of the Christians’ relatives’ homes have been attacked and looted. The arrested believers have been threatened by members of the local Muslim community, and this – along with police harassment – has led the four men to remain in hiding until a court date is set.
This news is discouraging to Sudanese Christians who had thought that religious freedom was increasing. In an unrelated event, two church leaders running a Bible study at a Baptist church in Khartoum were detained for four hours after a public nuisance complaint, filed under Penal Code Article 77, though this was later dismissed by a judge.
Please pray for the Sudanese church – they need our prayers as they face setbacks and discouragement.
Information for this story comes from Middle East Concern.
You can hear and learn from our persecuted church family at Standing Strong, the annual gathering where Open Doors supporters can join in worship and prayer, and hear inspiring testimonies. This year’s event is in Nottingham and online.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus. Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.