KHARTOUM, Sudan — Christian leaders in Sudan said government officials detained a shipment of Bibles, demanding custom fees even though Bibles are exempt.
In August, customs refused to release the Bibles after rejecting an application for tax-exempt status for the shipment.
Enacted in July 2020, Sudan’s Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act should eliminate customs duties for religious literature, and church leaders say the country’s estimated 2 million Christians have a dire need for Arabic-language Bibles.
The government, under former president Omar al-Bashir, adopted a strict version of sharia law, recognizing only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. His government demolished or confiscated church buildings, lands and properties and limited Christian literature.
Bashir was deposed in April 2019 and a transitional government took power the following month. In the new administration, Christians were expected to have a greater voice.
In March 2020, the government ordered church properties returned to rightful owners, action that still has not occurred.
Sudan is No. 13 on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.