Leader: Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
How many Christians?: 2 million (4.3% of the population)
World Watch List Rank: 10
“There are not equal rights for Christians to build their churches, the way Muslims have the full right to build their mosques.”
Abdul, a Sudanese Christian
Despite Sudan making positive strides towards religious freedom in recent years, persecution of Christians remains at a high level in the country, and there are fears this will worsen following the military coup in October 2021.
The seizure of power occurred following an escalation in hostilities between conservative Islamists who want a military government and those who toppled Omar al Bashir in April 2019. The overthrow of al Bashir resulted in a transitional government, with power shared between the military and civilian leaders. After mass protests led to the resignation of civilian prime minister Abdallah Hamdok in January 2022, there are fears that Sudan will return to the authoritarian years of the former president – which could also mean that the death penalty for leaving Islam, which was abolished in 2021, could be reinstated.
Even without the coup, social attitudes towards Christians have not changed, despite the positive steps made under the transitional government. This is especially the case in areas outside the capital Khartoum. Christians are still vulnerable to extreme persecution in public and private life, particularly if they have converted from Islam, and the government hasn’t put real protections in place for Christians and other religious minorities. For example, even with the change in official status, confiscated churches and lands have yet to be returned to their Christian owners, and trying to build new churches is still extremely difficult.
Seida Nuri* is a widow in her 50s, living in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, where thousands of Christians have been killed and displaced as the government seeks to ethnically cleanse the region of minority groups. Seida’s Christian husband, Peter, was killed in battle after he joined the army. A few years later, Seida’s eldest son moved away – she doesn’t know whether he is alive or dead. Seida grew up as a Muslim, and left Islam to follow Christ. Now, her family are trying to pressure her to renounce her faith by offering her support in exchange for returning to Islam. But, despite the difficulties of living as a widow, she is determined to hold on to Jesus.
Open Doors works through local church partners in Sudan to strengthen persecuted Christians through persecution survival training, discipleship training and economic empowerment projects.
Father God, we lift up Sudan and pray for stability in the region. Establish a government that respects equality and religious freedom. Heal those affected by violence and persecution. Build a resilient church in Sudan that stands strong in the face of persecution. Protect and bless Open Doors partners who strive to make this happen. Intervene to reinstate progress towards a fairer, safer society in Sudan. Amen.
*Name changed for security reasons…
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.