Discrimination against Christians in Sudan continues as officials declare Sunday as a work day and order all Christian schools to stop regarding Sunday as public day off.
The Ministry of General Education of Khartoum State issued a letter on July 26, 2017 indicating that this action would be effective immediately, as to “not affect the educational process and the ongoing plan.”
Sudan is home to a very large population of Muslims who celebrate Friday and Saturday as their public days off each week. The country, with a Muslim majority, considers Sunday to be a working day. The Christian schools in Sudan however, have always been closed on Sunday because they consider it their day of rest and worship. According to officials, this will no longer be the case for those schools.
Outrage Around the World
This harassment and discrimination of Christians in Sudan has caused those in the community and around the world to become outraged at the continued abuse against them.
“The government’s decision to abolish Sundays for Christian schools is discrimination against Christians in Sudan,” said one anonymous Sudanese church leader.
The continued discrimination has Sudanese Christians asking for support from various sources, including civil rights groups and even the Vatican.
This is not the first time the Vatican has been asked for support for Christians in Sudan. In 1991, the Vatican made a formal public protest about the treatment of the Church in South Sudan. At this time, a civil war between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Front (SPLA) and government officials raged. The Vatican took a stand, and accused the Sudanese government of discrimination against Christians in education and the continued harassment of clergy, as well as their closing of Catholic organizations.
In 1993, Pope John Paul visited Khartoum and met with the country’s president, General Omar Hassan Ahmed al Bashir. Tensions were high during a papal mass that was held outside the capital. In fact, soldiers in uniform as well as members of militias carried machine guns and waved them at people in front of the altar where the Pope stood.
Still, the Pope spoke from the heart and urged the Islamic government to end the suffering of Sudan’s Christians. He even compared the events to the crucifixion of Christ. He told officials that the only true way to guarantee peace would be to end the suffering and honor the rights of Christians and other minorities in the area. Unfortunately, this country and its Christians have not seen peace since this time.
A History of Abuse in Sudan
Sudan is a country that has been known for its poor treatment of Christians for many, many, years. The country also has a long history of violating other human rights, and since 1999 has been designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” by the U.S. State Department.
In fact, on the 2017 report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, it was recommended Sudan remain on the list once again. Christian support organization Open Doors has ranked Sudan as fifth on their 2017 “World Watch List” of countries who persecute Christians the most.
Government Support for Persecution
Recent harassment of the area’s religious minorities includes the May demolition of the final remaining church in Soba al Arabi near Khartoum, and the killing of a church member in April by Muslim supporters during a raid on the Evangelical School of Sudan, Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC).
The continued discrimination, harassment, and persecution of Christians has become so bad that the Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments has actually indicated that no new churches could be built in Sudan. According to the Sudanese Minister, there is no need for licenses to be issued for new churches, as there has been a significant decrease in the South Sudanese population.
The denial of new churches in Sudan was no surprise, as the country has banished foreign Christians, bulldozed churches, raided Christian bookstores, wrongly arrested Christians, and have even threatened death to South Sudanese Christians who do not cooperate as requested.
~ 1776 Christian