Sudanese Christian Participating in Peaceful Protest Stabbed to Death; Police Refuse to Intervene

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A Sudanese Christian was killed and another stabbed while taking part in a peaceful protest against the government's attempted appropriation of a Christian school.
Protesters participate in a demonstration held in Sudan Reuters

A Sudanese Christian was killed and another stabbed while taking part in a peaceful protest against the government's attempted appropriation of a Christian school.

Persecution watchdog World Watch Monitor reports that earlier this week, around 20 people armed with knives and other weapons attacked those participating in the three-day demonstration held to protest the government-linked committee's decision to sell the land on which the school is situated without the school's consent.

Younan Abdulla, part of the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SEPC), was among those attacked. The 28-year-old husband and father of two later died from his wounds, WWM reports. Another church member, Ayoub Kumama, also suffered stab wounds. He was taken to hospital but has since been discharged.

Bahri Evangelical Church, a SEPC church of which Mr. Abdulla was a member, has long been in a dispute with a committee linked to the government, which wants to buy the land on which the SEPC-owned school is situated.

According to the charity Middle East Concern (MEC), only one person has since been arrested: Shamshoun Hamoud, a member of the committee, was detained after eyewitnesses identified him as the person who stabbed Mr. Abdulla. The charity noted that no more arrests were made despite more people being involved in the attack.

"The police were present but failed to intervene to protect those who were attacked. They also failed to help Younan after he was stabbed," said the outlet.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: "We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Elder Younan Abdulla and to the Evangelical Church in Omdurman.                   

"We are calling for a thorough and speedy investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death and for all those responsible to be held to account.

"We urge the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments to authorise the legitimate SEPC committee to administrate on behalf of the denomination.

"We also call for an end to the policy of targeting places of worship for demolition and erasing the Christian presence from the country. This violates Sudan's obligations under its constitution and international treaties to which it is party.

"We urge the African Union, the European Union, UK and US governments to hold the Sudanese government to account in order to ensure justice for Sudan's Christian community in general and for the family of Elder Abdulla in particular."

WWM notes that the harassment of Christians in Sudan has intensified since the secession of South Sudan in 2011, when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a strict interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law). As reported, the government's implementation of a "one-religion, one culture and one language policy" triggers attacks toward Christians, sometimes resulting in arrest and murder.

In February, the government ordered the demolition of 25 church buildings, claiming  that the churches were built on land zoned for other uses. However, Christian leaders have said it is part of wider crack-down on Christianity.

In 2014, the government imposed a ban on the building of new Christian churches. Shalil Abdullah, minister for Guidance and Religious Endowments, announced that with South Sudan being separated from the country, the remaining churches were "sufficient for Sudan's Christian population," Independent Catholic News reported.

The country is currently ranked 5th on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution, and has received the maximum score in the violence category.

Tags : Sudan, Christian, protest, peaceful protest, church, church demolition, persecution in Sudan