Sudan: Judge rejects apostasy charges against 4 Christians threatened with death

A Sudanese court has dismissed charges of apostasy against four former Muslim converts to Christianity, recalling that apostasy is no longer considered a crime in Sudan. 

Morning Star News reports that on September 8, Judge Ibrahim Hamza dismissed charges of apostasy against four Christians. According Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), during their detention, the prosecutor had ordered the four men, former Muslim converts to Christianity, to renounce their faith at the risk of being condemned to the death penalty.

However, as Mr. Hamza recalled in his judgment, apostasy is no longer considered a crime in Sudan since 2020.

Bader el Dean Haroon Abdel Jabaar, his brother Mohammad Haroon Abdel Jabaar, Tariq Adam Abdalla and Morthada Ismail, were arrested by the police on June 28 while they were at the Baptist Church in Zalingei, western Sudan in Darfur.

They were charged with apostasy under article 126 of the Sudanese penal code of 1991, yet repealed in 2020 following the overthrow of the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, the “infidels” were then liable to the death penalty.

The Christians were held for several days before being released on bail on July 5. The police also reportedly confiscated their Bibles and an audio system belonging to the church, which was ransacked.

Sudan is ranked 13th in theGlobal Index of Persecution of Christians 2022 from the NGO Portes Ouvertes, the organization specifies that the military coup that took place in October 2021 plunged “the country back into a period of unrest”. A situation which could, according to the NGO, have disastrous consequences for Christians.

CSW founding president Mervyn Thomas says that while he welcomes the men's release, he remains concerned "about the deteriorating security and human rights situation in Sudan". He calls on the international community to intervene.

“Reports from the church in Central Darfur that it is not safe for them to reopen, together with reports from other churches that closed last year, are a stark illustration that freedom of religion or conviction is seriously threatened. We call on the international community to raise these cases directly with Sudanese military leaders as a matter of urgency. »

Camille Westphal Perrier

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