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Did You Know...Sudan

...that Sudan repeatedly has used its apostasy law over the past two years against Christians and Muslims?

Apostasy is the formal abandonment, or renunciation, of a religious faith. Under Article 126 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Act, apostasy from Islam is legally punishable by death. While this punishment has not been carried out in almost two decades, there have been a number of apostasy cases in the past two years. In the past, suspected converts were subjected to intense scrutiny, intimidation, and sometimes torture by government security personnel.

All Sudanese, including Christians and followers of traditional African religions, are subject to the government’s interpretation of Shari’ah (Islamic law). Khartoum’s policies of Islamization and Arabization are root causes of Sudan’s many wars including the North-South civil war from 1983 to 2005, the genocide in Darfur, and the current fighting in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

During 2011 and 2012, nearly 170 persons were imprisoned and/or charged with the “crime” of apostasy:

On December 10, 2012, Coptic Orthodox priests Rev. Markus Anthony and Rev. Sarbion Hussein and three other Christians were arrested after a young Muslim woman converted to Christianity. The convert fled the country fearing for her life. The Sudanese priests were later were released.

On September 8, 2011, Suleman Aboulgasim Musa and 17 of his followers were arrested and charged with apostasy. Musa, who believes he is Jesus Christ and a follower of the Prophet Mohammed, and his followers have been practicing their religion since 1981.

On July 29, 2011, 150 people were arrested and 129 were charged with apostasy, disturbance of the public peace, and being a public nuisance. The individuals are members of the Darfur Hausa ethnic group and practice a version of Islam different than the one propagated by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP); they follow the Qur’an but not the sunna. The individuals were released in September only after they renounced their faith and agreed to follow the government‘s interpretation of Islam.

On May 8, 2011, Sudanese intelligence officers arrested Hawa Abdulla Muhammad Saleh, a Christian, for “apostasy, proselytizing, Christianization of minors,” and other crimes. Upon her arrest, the government posted a picture of Hawa holding a Bible in her hand, putting her life in danger. She was later released and remains in Sudan.