Religious freedom rolled back in Sudan
The prosecution of 4 Christian converts from Islam under an apostasy law abolished 2 years ago confirms concerns about the Sudanese government returning to Islamism.
The 4 young men now face the death penalty in line with Islamic law. The apostasy law was abolished in 2020 by the reforming government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Sudan gained independence from joint British and Egyptian rule in 1956. In 1983, Colonel Jaafar Nimeiri, imposed full sharia law, declaring Sudan to be an Islamic state.
Under Omar al-Bashir (1989 – 2019) sharia was enforced, and the Christian minority suffered fierce persecution. Conversion from Islam to another religion was made officially punishable by death.
Sudan is one of the few countries where the death penalty for apostasy is carried out. In 1985 an Islamic theologian, convicted of apostasy after a 2-hour trial for urging a more liberal interpretation of sharia, was hanged 10 days later. In 1994, two tribal Christian converts from Islam were crucified.
Reforms by the transitional government in April 2019 raised hopes that Sudan was moving towards a “new era”.
After calls by Islamist groups, however, the new government was removed in a fresh coup in October 2021.
Now it seems that the reforms that had improved the lives of Muslim-background believers are being rolled back.