Charges have been dropped against one Christian pastor in Sudan, but another pastor could face execution for what his defenders say are trumped-up charges based on animosity toward their religion.
In November 2015, Kuwa Shamal and Hassan Abduraheem attended a
Christian conference where Abduraheem was a speaker, according to the
American Center for Law and Justice, which is supporting the pastors.
During his speech, Abduraheem showed a picture of a young man who was
beaten badly for attending a demonstration. The pastor said he was
helping pay for his medical treatment.
In December 2015, the two pastors were arrested by Sudan’s National
Intelligence and Security Services, which claimed their financial aid
constituted support for rebel forces in the country's South Kordofan
region, part of which is contested with South Sudan.
The American Center for Law and Justice alleged that the charges were
“trumped-up” and said the two were on trial for their Christian faith.
A judge dropped all charges against Shamal Jan. 2 and released him to his family.
Abduraheem and two other men standing trial continue to face many
charges, including espionage and agitating hatred between classes. They
could be sentenced to death if convicted. Their fellow defendants are
Petr Jasek, a Christian aid worker from the Czech Republic, and
Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla, a graduate student and activist
Shamal and Abduraheem's case was noted on Twitter in August 2016 by
David Saperstein, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International
The American Center for Law and Justice welcomed the end of charges
against Shamal, while continguing to call for prayer and advocacy for
At least 90 percent of Sudan's population is Muslim, and sharia is
the source of the nation's legislation. Apostasy from Islam is
punishable by the death penalty.
Since 1999, the U.S. state department has listed Sudan as a country of particular concern due to religious freedom violations.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises
the U.S. government, has said in a recent report that Sudan’s
government “continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious
violations of freedom of religion or belief.” The report noted that the
country’s “restrictive interpretation” of sharia is imposed on both
Muslims and non-Muslims.
International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need noted in its 2016 Religious Freedom Report
that Sudan's constitution was amended to “widen and increase” the power
of the National Intelligence and Security Services, which has impacted
“human resources issues and the prosecution of individuals, media
outlets and organisations for alleged breaches of the law.”
Open Doors' 2016 World Watch List ranked Sudan eighth in a list of 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted.
Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for
alleged apostasy from Islam, was evacuated from her Sudanese homeland
in July 2014. She was allowed to leave Sudan only after several months
of imprisonment, and intense international pressure was brought to bear
on her situation.
Sudan scored a 12 out of 100 in Transparency International's 2015
Corruption Perceptions Index, ranking ahead of only Afghanistan, North
Korea, and Somalia.