Church in Sudan demolished without notice

Church in Sudan demolished without notice

KHARTOUM NORTH, South Sudan — Officials sent a bulldozer accompanied by police to tear down the Evangelical Church in Al Haj Yousif in Khartoum North just a few hours after the end of Sunday worship Feb. 11, a church leader said. Eyewitnesses said police confiscated chairs, tables and Bibles before the unannounced demolition.

Government officials told church leaders the church was demolished because worship created public disturbances, but Christian leaders said the church sat on land that the government is helping a Muslim business interest to seize.

They said the church has owned the property since 1989 and that a judge verbally confirmed its ownership.

A Muslim who claims ownership of the church property has forged documents showing ownership, however, and the dispute is still pending in court. Sudan has designated at least 25 church buildings for destruction, claiming they were built on government lands, Christian leaders said.

Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fourth on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution. (MS)