Christian students must study Islam, Christian education dropped, then government claims this was ‘error’


Christians in Sudan have every reason to be skeptical about the government’s intentions. The country is experiencing a fierce tug of war between its habitual Islamic supremacist abuse of Christians and what appears to be a move by its transitional government toward greater tolerance for the Christian community and the restoration of peace in the country. This move has been made for the government’s own survival; the Trump administration is threatening sanctions over ongoing violence there. In December, Sudan announced that it would close the offices of Hamas and Hizballah in order to get U.S. sanctions lifted.

But as part of the transitional government’s formal show of pursuing peace, the country needs to stop its persecution of Christians. According to the persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, Sudan ranks sixth on the worldwide list of the worst countries for Christians.

Also, in March, the Muslim Brotherhood was reported to be escalating its activities in Sudan, including jihad attacks. Authorities there were monitoring several jihad groups that were linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Three months later, Sudan’s transitional government abolished Islamic committees that confiscated church properties, but during the same time, Muslims burned down two churches.

Then in July, Sudan abolished the death penalty for apostasy, and eased Sharia restrictions. But also around the same time, mosque leaders incited Muslims to attack Christians, and there was a report of Muslims screaming “Allahu akbar” and stabbing a Christian to death.

Sudan has come a long way, but its ongoing persecution of Christians, including this latest “error,” suggests a lack of sincerity among some of Sudan’s leadership.

“Sudanese official says dropping Christian education was ‘error,’ but church leaders don’t believe it,” by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post, September 12, 2020:

The top official of Sudan’s education regulatory body claims he erroneously omitted Christian education on a list he sent to all public schools in August directing them to teach only the subjects on the list.

Christian leaders have raised concerns that Christianity won’t be taught in schools, despite the admission, because educators qualified to teach the subject haven’t been hired. In Sudanese schools, Christian students are required to study Islam and some educators have forced students to convert.

Director-General Omer Ahmed al-Garay of National Centre for Curriculum and Educational Research, said in a letter that he did not intentionally omit Christianity from school subjects in NCCER’s previous directive, according to the U.S.-based Morning Star News.

“In reference to our previous letter dated Aug. 23, 2020, regarding the school subjects, we wish to consider the new timetable attached. The old timetable had unintended error,” Al-Garay wrote.

The official said many Christians called him to ask why Christianity had been omitted from the list of school subjects. “I apologize to Christian brothers who called asking why Christianity was dropped out from the school subjects,” Al-Garay wrote.

Islam has long been taught in schools in Sudan and now deposed President Omar al-Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of Sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language after the country’s secession from South Sudan in 2011.

While a transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, was sworn in last year, an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power remains influential.

“The apology of the director will not change the reality of the matter,” the Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, was quoted as saying. “Christianity will continue to be in the timetable, but there will be no one to teach it in government schools, because there are no teachers appointed by the government to teach it,” he explained.

Christian students have to study Islam as a school subject and in some areas, they are often forced to convert, Nalu said.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cautiously acknowledged improvements in the country’s religious and political atmosphere after the commission’s chair, Tony Perkins, visited Sudan in February…..

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