Khartoum (Agenzia Fides) - The Sudanese government, through the Minister of Religious Affairs, Shalil Abdullah, announced the freezing of permits for the construction of new churches. The decision - explained the Minister - stems from the fact that the Christian community in Sudan has decreased substantially following the secession of South Sudan. After the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, citizens from the south were forced to leave Sudan.
The Catholic Church in Sudan has recently complained about the discrimination faced by Christians living in the Country. "The legal situation of Christians in Sudan is really worrying", said His Exc. Mgr. Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of the Diocese of South Sudan in Tambura-Yambio, during a recent visit to the headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need.
A note sent to Fides Agency said that "although the constitution guarantees equal rights for all Sudanese, without distinction of religion, Christians are considered and treated as second-class citizens". "Members of the clergy cannot obtain a passport and when they leave the Country they never know if they will ever come back. Many priests have been expelled and the Bishops are forced into silence because they cannot freely express their opinions", explained Mgr. Kussala.
The most vulnerable are the common faithful, as is the case of Meriam Yahia Ibrayim Ishaq, the girl sentenced to death for apostasy. "Meriam’s faith was well known to all - recalls the Bishop - but one day, suddenly, she was threatened and then condemned. And the government did not act in any way leaving Islamic leaders to decide on the woman’s future". Meriam was later released as a result of heavy international pressure, but was forced to leave Sudan. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 14/07/2014)