Can Christians Trust Sudan’s Leaders’ Attempt to Reform Blasphemy Laws and Mend Religious Wounds?

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok meets with commissioners serving with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 5, 2019. | USCIRF

The latest news from Sudan sounds promising, but is it too good to be true?

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met with USCIRF officials earlier this month; it was the first time a Sudanese government leader visited the U.S. in 30 years. Hamdok reportedly outlined multiple improvements, including changes to Sudan’s apostasy and blasphemy laws, workshops related to religious freedom and legislative reform, and new laws for places of worship.

Meanwhile, back in Sudan, officials “invited church leaders to come speak into the process as they’re developing a new government,” says a Christian worker we’ll call Ken.  It’s suspicious, to say the least.

“These are the same people who, just a few months ago, were putting people (believers) in prison… now they’re inviting them to come be a part of the same conversation.”

Understanding Sudan requires context

As described here, dictator Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years:

Under his charge, the country has been ruled as an Islamic state with limited rights for religious minorities… All Christian communities in Sudan are afraid of having conversations about their faith with Sudanese Muslims because that could put them at risk for arrest or intimidation… conversion from Islam to another religion is legally punishable by death.

There were also threats inside the church walls. “In the past, the Sudanese government planted spies in the churches and also recruited spies out of the churches,” Ken says. “So… nobody trusts each other because you never know what someone’s motives are.”

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth