Authorities in southeastern Sudan arrested a church leader for preaching to Muslims, Morning Star News reported.
Yousif Ayoub Hussein Ali was detained during an open-air worship event in the Blue Nile state capital of Ad-Damazin, according to a press statement from the local General Union of Christian Youth.
Ali was accused of inciting religious hatred and preaching to Muslims, though there is no law in Sudan against proclaiming one’s faith, said a local source whose name is withheld for security reasons.
Area Muslims expressed fear that his preaching would encourage their children to convert, the source said.
The Feb. 17arrest violates religious rights and international treaties to which Sudan is a party, the General Union of Christian Youth stated.
“We condemn this unethical behavior which is not in line with the international treaties,” the group’s statement read.
The transitional civilian-military government that came into power following the end of the 30-year Islamist dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 outlawed the labeling of any religious group “infidels” and thus effectively rescinded apostasy laws that made leaving Islam punishable by death.
Following two years of advances in religious freedom in Sudan and the undoing of some sharia (Islamic law) provisions, the specter of state-sponsored persecution returned with the military coup of Oct. 25, 2021.
In Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Sudan was ranked No. 10, up from No. 13 the previous year, as attacks by non-state actors continued and religious freedom reforms at the national level were not enacted locally.
The Christian population of Sudan is estimated at 2 million, or 4.5% of the total population of more than 43 million.
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