Sudan has been identified as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians.
Believers and other religious minorities in this nation face extreme persecution from Muslims.
But a recent change in government has proven that there’s still hope!
For thirty years, the oppressive Sharia-based regime wreaked havoc throughout Sudan.
Omar al Bashir, the nation’s former leader, systemically repressed religious freedom for every group except Muslims.
He supported the widespread application of Sharia law to both Muslims and non-Muslims throughout Sudan, urging Muslims to convert as many as they could.
Many non-Muslim religious minorities fled the country or converted to Sunni Islam in the wake of bloodshed and oppression, and al Bashir left a legacy of terror in Sudan, especially for the nation’s Christians.
“The government has arrested or intimidated many Christian leaders, and numerous churches have been demolished—including places of worship that had been in use for years,” reported Open Doors USA.
“Extremists have attacked Christians…[and] thousands of Christians have been killed or displaced.”
Sudan was in fragments at the end of 2019, when civilian protests surrounding the economy and governmental crackdowns finally ousted the dictatorship of al Bashir.
After the protests, many of which were led by teachers and business owners, Sudan installed a transitional government composed of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his 18-member advisory cabinet.
The transitional government will steer the country for approximately 39 months, until Sudan reaches a more stable peace.
And now, this new government is reversing many of the previous regime’s discriminatory practices and making the country safer for Christians every day!
The new cabinet, which even has a Christian member, has admitted, “We have to put in a lot of efforts to meet our people’s demands [for freedom and security].”
“The world is watching us,” agreed Information Minister Faisal Mohamed Saleh. “It is waiting to see how we can solve our issues.”
So far, the government has let freedom grow by leaps and bounds, repealing old laws and regulations that oppressed religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, like women and girls.
In April 2020, the new government criminalized the inhuman practice of female genital mutilation, which is often based in a rigid “honor” system trickling down from Islam.
Then, the transitional government adopted the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act, a law which addressed women’s rights and former punishments for “apostasy.”
Under the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act, those who convert from Islam to Christianity can no longer face the death penalty.
“As a government, our work is to protect all Sudanese citizens based on the Constitution and based on laws that should be consistent with the Constitution,” said Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari.
Previous oppressive laws surrounding religion were “a threat to the security and safety of society,” Abdulbari observed.
These moves toward freedom and security have been greeted with enthusiasm and joy by most of the Sudanese people.
“The transitional government has demonstrated its intent to keep equal citizenship at the forefront of the political transition, including by addressing issues of gender and religious freedoms,” commented Ahmed Soliman, a researcher.
But Soliman pointed out that radical Muslims may resent these positive changes.
“There is also…a strong backlash by conservative religious and political figures who see the changes as an attack on Islam and morality.”
Thus far, the new government has stood up to these extremist sects, but time will tell if the reforms remain in place.
Sudanese Christians now have new reason to hope, knowing that they have a voice in the country’s future and a chance to influence it for Christ.
The Sudanese people—Christians and non-Christians alike—have urged the transitional cabinet to continue pushing for freedom and collaboration between different groups.
Recent demonstrations have shown that some citizens want the changes to move even faster, but it’s incredible to see the difference in Sudan after only one year of this new government.
“The road ahead is not easy,” said Walaa Isam, Minister for Youth and Sports. “We will face many challenges but we have to work on them.”
Please pray for Sudan’s transitional government! May God grant these leaders the wisdom and courage they need to protect religious rights and serve their people.
And pray for our brothers and sisters in Sudan, that they may effectively witness to their country!