On 21 November authorities in Sudan arrested and jailed a church leader on charges of “witchcraft” for leading a prayer meeting for his ailing mother, sources reported.
Pastor Abdalla Haron Sulieman was leading a prayer meeting for his mother, who suffered from an infection in her legs that kept her from walking, when authorities in El Hasahisa town, Al Jazirah state walked into the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church site.
His mother, 60-year-old Aisha Adam, was healed after he prayed for her, and others from the predominantly Muslim area began crowding in for healing. The meeting angered Muslim extremists who persuaded police to arrest the pastor on charges of claiming to be a witch doctor (Case No. 6737/2022 under the Sudan Criminal Code of 1991.)
Sudanese Christians took to social media, some demanding the pastor’s immediate release, and others terming the jailing more evidence of ongoing and systematic persecution of Christians in Sudan.
Following two years of advances in religious freedom in Sudan after the end of the Islamist dictatorship under Omar al-Bashir in 2019, state-sponsored persecution returned with the military coup on 25 October 2021.
After Bashir was ousted from 30 years of power in April 2019, the transitional civilian-military government managed to undo some sharia (Islamic law) provisions. It outlawed the labelling of any religious group as “infidels” and thus effectively rescinded apostasy laws that made leaving Islam punishable by death.
With the October 2021 coup, Christians in Sudan fear the return of the most repressive and harsh aspects of Islamic law. Abdalla Hamdok, who had led a transitional government as prime minister starting in September 2019, was detained under house arrest for nearly a month before he was released and reinstated in a tenuous power-sharing agreement in November 2021.
Hamdok had been faced with rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” from Bashir’s regime – the same deep state that is suspected of rooting out the transitional government in the 2021 coup.
The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report states that conditions have improved somewhat with the decriminalisation of apostasy and a halt to the demolition of churches, but that conservative Islam still dominates society; Christians face discrimination, including problems in obtaining licences for constructing church buildings.
The Christian population of Sudan is estimated at 2 million, or 4.5 percent of the total population of more than 43 million.
Sources: Morning Star News
Ask the Lord to secure the release of Pastor Abdalla. Pray he will remain faithful and courageous.
Thank the Lord for the healing of Pastor Abdalla’s mother and the strong witness for the power of the gospel.
Pray for the church in Sudan, that they will continue to meet and encourage one another in the faith.
Uphold Abdalla Hamdok and all in positions of authority.