Concerned Christians “wait and see” after the coup in Sudan …… | News and reports

Amid a near total phone and internet blackout, Sudanese Christians are on high alert following a military coup.

Yesterday, the head of the North African Nation’s Sovereign Transitional Council, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, arrested his civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, his wife and other officials.

Hamdok, who called the arrests a “complete coup,” called for a protest. The Forces of Freedom and Change alliance, which organized the original revolution of 2018 that overthrew the 30-year-old dictator Omar al-Bashir, called for civil disobedience.

Thousands of people filled the streets and suffered repression. Reports indicate that 10 people were kill and 80 hurt.

CT spoke with a US ministry official who was able to contact a Christian source in Sudan. The chef requested anonymity to preserve their ability to travel. The source was very careful in the communication.

“All I can really say is that it is very important to pray for peace and security for all in Sudan,” the leader said, “and that the voice of the people be heard”.

Meanwhile, a Sudanese Catholic leader felt secure enough to be precise.

“The international community should put pressure on the junta to value the lives of its citizens”, declared Yunan Tombe Trille, president of the Sudanese Catholic Bishops’ Conference, “and return power to civilian government”.

The army eventually supported the revolutionary movement and, in July 2019, agreed to share power within the Sovereign Council. The arrangement: The first 21 months would be led by a military, then 18 months of civilian leadership, followed by elections.

Peace deals with rebels in Darfur and the Nuba Mountains have reset the timeline for integrating ex-combatants into formal military and governance structures. The new date of the civil transfer has not been specified. Some reports said it was due next month.

Last month an attempted coup was put down. Tension has since characterized relations between the military and civilians, as economic gains have been slow to materialize.

Cabinet instituted IMF reforms, removing subsidies due to inflation skyrockets 400 percent. And recently, an anti-government tribal group from the east blocked Sudan’s essential port on the Red Sea, preventing the arrival of vital supplies.

Other tensions relate to military reform and surveillance, the surrender of Bashir to the International Criminal Court and the publication of the results of the investigation into the massacre of protesters in June 2019 allegedly committed by current members of the Sovereign Council.

Over the past two weeks, pro-military and pro-civilian protesters have staged rallies.

An American envoy went to Sudan to warn of the abandonment of the democratic path. The coup took place a a few hours after he left. The Biden administration immediately suspended $ 700 million in emergency economic aid. YOU SAID declared humanitarian aid will continue, of which $ 386 million has already been disbursed this year.

Burhan suspended the transitional constitution, pledged a technocratic government, and said the military would remain in charge until the July 2023 election. Reports noted Central Bank employees went on strike, while medical staff refused to work in military hospitals.

The civilian government had won international praise for promoting religious freedom, suppressing Islam as the state religion, dropping the death penalty for apostasy, and even letting Christians walk for Jesus in the capital. Sudanese Christians have been greatly encouraged by the changes that have moved their government away from the discriminatory practices of the Bashir regime.

“Who is behind this movement? ” reportedFides, citing an anonymous Christian source. “Are they Islamists? A more secular branch?

The source said there was “great uncertainty and great fear.” But sympathies were with Hamdok and the civilian leaders.

“They are good people… who have paid for their loyalty to the people,” the source said. “They [the military] say they did it to save the revolution, but it’s an act that definitely bury it.

Reports said that just before the coup, the military asked Hamdok to join the executive leadership. It was not well received.

“The officers want power without losing face,” the source said, “as if people are stupid and don’t already know about the maneuvers.”

Among those arrested are the governor of Khartoum and the spokesperson for the Sovereign Council. Sacked with the others, the Minister of Religious Affairs who had invited Texan Pastor Bob Roberts to lead a delegation on religious freedom next week.

“How will religious minorities be treated? said Roberts, senior world pastor at Northwood Church and co-founder of the Multi-Faith Neighbors Network. “It’s too early to tell, but they have a right to be worried.”

Roberts’ initiative reportedly launched imam-pastor dialogue groups in five cities, joined by David Saperstein, Abdullah al-Sanusi and Mohamed Maged. The latter’s father was once the Grand Mufti of Sudan.

The multi-faith group expressed hope for the preservation of religious freedom.

With concern, Christian rights organizations have followed suit.

“A window of opportunity for religious freedom in Sudan may be about to close”, declared Paul Robinson, CEO of Release International. “One need only look back a few years to Sudan under a hardline Islamist government to be truly concerned about what Sudan might look like again. “

In 2017, their partner Petr Jasek was jailed for investigating the destruction of churches. Robinson called for protecting civil and religious rights.

“Please pray that these most fundamental freedoms,” he said, “to choose who will rule their country and to decide for themselves which faith they wish to follow, will be preserved in Sudan. “

Among the recent religious reforms was the abolition of the apostasy law.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) called for action.

“Measures must be taken to ensure that demonstrators can exercise their rights peacefully”, declared CSW Chairman Mervyn Thomas “and that financial and other punitive measures are imposed on the military until civilian administration is reestablished.”

Scott Gration, the former Obama-era US special envoy to Sudan, warns against overreacting.

“There is a military legacy that is wise to consider,” he said. “We must return to the arrangement of cooperation, despite the feeling of punishing the generals.”

The international community must redouble its efforts to overturn the arrests. But civil democracy will be better rooted if the military is a partner in a methodical transition. The son of former missionaries in the Congo, Gration said much more needed to be done to ensure economic success.

When Sudan agreed to normalization with Israel last October, it reinforced Washington’s intention to remove the country from the US list of states supporting terrorism. But while progress has been made on debt relief, the international community has been slow with foreign investment.

In addition, the agreement with Israel has sharpened the borders between religious groups in Sudan. Minorities may have been caught in the middle.

“If Islamist or conservative elements in the military take over,” Gration said, “it will really frighten a lot of Christians.”

An anonymous Sudanese diplomat Recount the Israeli press that the takeover would not significantly affect the normalization process. It could even progress, he said, as the military provided stronger support than nervous civilian politicians.

If this is true, it may well align with broader geopolitical interests.

Reports noted that Egypt maintains relations with the formal Sudan army, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have allied themselves with the Darfur-based Rapid Support Forces, whose commander is also part of the Sovereign Council.

Eric Patterson, executive vice president of the Religious Freedom Institute, called them specifically.

“It is important that the international community, especially the Arab states and neighbors like Egypt,” he said, “actively condemn this coup”.

So far, their response has been lukewarm. Egypt and Saudi Arabia called for “restraint”, with vague declarations to preserve the gains and protect the unit. The Arab League was stronger, calling on all to “fully comply” with the transitional constitution.

But even with the new constitution, said retired missionary John Ashworth, many Christians and other religious minorities remained “cautious” about the new dispensation.

“While of course they were happy to see the end of Bashir,” the longtime Sudan analyst said, their experience under every Khartoum regime since independence – civilian or military, democratic or dictatorship, Islamist or simply Islamic – has been oppression, marginalization, and discrimination.

“They have good reason to wait and see before approving a new regime,” Ashworth said.

Whether under Burhan or Hamdok, Sudanese Christians have a biblical mandate to be God’s people under all circumstances, Trille recalled. The Catholic bishop seems pessimistic that the situation remains the same.

“The church in Sudan has never been silent under the Cross of Christ,” he said. “Despite some changes that have taken place in Sudan, the attitude of the leaders towards the church has never changed.”

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