As the high-profile espionage trial of two evangelical pastors resumes in Khartoum, Sudan, this week, a human rights group is calling on Pope Francis to intervene on their behalf.
The Rev. Hassan Abduelraheem Kodi and the Rev. Kuwa Shamal Abu Zumam of the Church of Christ are accused of spying and providing material support for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a rebel group fighting the forces of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir in the troubled South Kordofan region.
Christians in majority-Muslim Sudan are following the case closely, and many see it as part of a pattern of persecution against the nation’s Christian minority. Some of the charges — denied by the accused — carry a death sentence.
Detained with the pastors: Peter Justin, a Czech missionary, and human rights activist Abduelmoneim Abdulmwlla.
“We are appealing to Pope Francis to help seek the release of the four,” said Bushra Gamar, chief executive of HUDO, the Human Rights and Development Organization, an independent Sudanese rights group.
“The international community … can also put pressure on the government to respect the constitutional rights of non-Muslims, particularly Christians and their churches,” he said.
Abduelraheem has been detained since December, while Shamal was arrested on the same date, released, but rearrested in May.
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SOURCE: Religion News Service