Christian activists salute a "miracle" when Sudan abolishes the legislation of apostasy
Sudanese protesters protest in front of the Ministry of Defense in Khartoum, Sudan, April 14, 2019.(Photo: Reuters / Umit Bektas)
Christian human rights activists have described Sudan's abolition of the law of apostasy as a "miracle".
The Sudanese government, where Christians have been persecuted for many years, has decided to relax the law in April, but the changes only came into effect last week.
"The direction of travel in Sudan was towards increasingly strict Islamic law and restrictions on religious freedom. Today, this direction is reversed. There is freedom in the air," said Paul Robinson, CEO of Release International, who supports persecuted Christians worldwide.
Converting to Christianity in Sudan has been illegal for many years, and even debating religious beliefs could result in arrest. The punishment for apostasy under the former Islamist government was death.
In 2014, Sudan's apostasy laws were in the spotlight when a woman, Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death and 40 lashes for allegedly committing the crime after marrying a Christian.
Although she was a Christian herself, she was charged with apostasy because her father's belief was Muslim. She was sentenced to death after refusing to give up her Christian beliefs and gave birth in prison on death row before finally being released and fleeing to Italy.
Robinson said decriminalizing the waste in Sudan is "a significant step towards religious freedom in a country where Christians are routinely persecuted."
The authorities also confiscated Christian property during this persecution. He now hopes that it will be returned.
Mr. Robinson asked the Christians to pray that religious freedom in Sudan be protected from possible opposition.
"Opposition is expected and there is a risk of a backlash from hardliners," he said.
"Pray that freedom will win the day and that Christians will have a stronger voice under the new government. Please also pray that the government returns the many Christian and church goods that have been confiscated."
The changes were introduced by the interim government, which replaced the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown last year.
On Saturday, the Sudanese Minister of Justice announced that the country would now allow non-Muslims to consume alcohol and that female genital mutilation (FGM) should be banned.