Sudan bans new Catholic churches

CISA (Catholic Information Service Africa) is reporting that the Khartoum government has decided it will no longer allow any further construction of churches in the country. This ban extends to the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time it is interesting to note that many government officials send their children to Catholic schools because they are recognized as providing an excellent education to their pupils.

The CISA report, from Khartoum and dated 22 July, reads as follows: 

The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Religious Endowments announced that the government will not issue permits anymore for the construction of new churches in the country.

Sudanese Christian leaders, according to Fides News Agency have criticized the statement.

Minister Shalil Abdallah told the Khartoum based El Jareeda newspaper this month that the existing churches are enough for the Christians remaining in Sudan, after the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

He also pointed out the fact that majority of the inhabitants of South Sudan are Christians, while the number of Christians in Sudan is small.

Reacting to the news, Rev Kori El Ramli, the Secretary-General of the Sudan Council of Churches, told Radio Tamazuj that the Minister’s statement contradicts the Sudanese 2005 Interim Constitution. “Yes, we are a minority, but we have freedom of worship and belief just like the rest of the Sudanese, as long as we are Sudanese nationals like them”, he explained.

The pastor also criticized the recent demolition of the Sudanese Church of Christ, built in 1983 at El Izba, in Khartoum north.

Most congregants of the Sudanese church of Christ are Nuba from South Kordofan. In a report issued in April, 2013, the NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted a significant increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians by Sudan since December 2012.

The organisation also reported that systematic targeting of Nuba and other ethnic groups suggests the resurgence of an official policy of Islamization and Arabization.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the US State Department in 1999.

In April 2013, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list.