July 23, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – Khartoum State has granted permission to build a church in the Sudanese capital after decades of religious persecution and systemic rejection of constructing places of worship by religious minorities in the country.
“The Orthodox Church in Sudan has been granted permission to build a place of worship on land it owns in Hay-Elrawda, Omdurman,” said UK based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) group in a statement released on Friday.
The decision was issued on 16 July, following a request by the government to review a previous rejection last June by the Urban Planning Department, “which had claimed that the land was only authorised for residential purposes”.
In line with the urban planning guidelines established by the former regime, church must be registered as a place for commercial use so that they have to get the permission of all neighbouring properties. If two neighbours object, they cannot proceed with the construction of a church.
This poly set by the al-Bashir regime allowed his Islamist government to find a legal justification for their efforts to destroy and confiscate churches and to prevent the non-Muslim minorities from establishment places of worship.
After the formation of the transitional government in September 2019, Sudanese Justice Minister Nasr al-Din Abdel-Bari pledged to reform the laws to ensure religious freedom and equality in citizenship in accordance with the Constitutional Declaration governing the transition.
Several reforms have been implemented during the past two years such as repealing an article that made apostasy a crime subject to capital punishment and criminalizing the act of accusing others of apostasy. Also, the government repealed a law prohibiting non-Muslims from drinking alcohol.
However, Hamdok’s government has been blamed for not achieving major reforms because many laws established by the former regime remain in effect, and the administration is managed by Islamist staff appointed by al-Bashir’s government.
Last June, CSW’s President Mervyn Thomas called to put an end to these practices estblished by the former regime and to create a clear and non-discriminatory policy for the registration of places of worship in Sudan.
Christian groups say similar cases still remain unresolved pointing to the Sudanese Reformed Church which is seeking to re-acquire land in Wad-Albashir camp for displaced people, southwest Omdurman.