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Policy Update: Sudan-The Shrinking Space for and Increasing Persecution of Christians

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Since South Sudan’s secession in 2011, USCIRF has documented an escalation in the Sudanese government’s persecution of Christians. The government’s persecution of Christians is in line with the ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) long standing campaign to strengthen Sudan’s Islamic and Arabic identity, disregarding the country’s vast religious and ethnic diversity. Peace agreements remain out of reach in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile. Security officers have arrested on the capital offense of apostasy more than 150 Muslims who practice an interpretation of Islam different than that espoused by NCP. In 2015, the National Assembly strengthened penalties for apostasy and blasphemy. In this environment, Christians have faced particular persecution as a religious community.

Over a six-year period, the Sudanese government has arrested almost 200 Christians, including 14 religious authorities; threatened dozens of churches and related church buildings, including through demolition, closure, and expropriation; and continued to discriminate against Christians and promote Islam. Nuban Christians in the Nuba Mountains Khartoum and Omdurman have been especially targeted as both religious and ethnic minorities. The government’s under the radar destruction and expropriation of churches and arrest of pastors is part of a broader campaign to shrink the space available for Christians to practice their faith. The Sudanese government justifies this persecution by misleadingly arguing that with South Sudan’s secession, there are no more Christians.
In response to these religious freedom violations, as well as other violations, USCIRF continues to recommend that the State Department designate Sudan as a CPC.