|World Watch List Rank||World Watch List Score|
|President Omar al-Bashir||42.2 million | 2 million Christians|
|WWL Rank in 2017||Persecution Level|
Sharia (Islamic law) is the foundation of Sudan's legal system, and leaving Islam is punishable by death. Persecution comes from the government and radical Muslims and is systematic and reminiscent of a policy of ethnic cleansing. Under the authoritarian rule of President al-Bashir and his party, there is no rule of law in Sudan; press and media laws are restrictive, and freedom of expression has been highly curtailed. Historically, Islam is deeply embedded in Sudan’s society and the government is strictly implementing the policy of one religion, one culture and one language. Since South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan in 2011, thousands of Christians have moved to South Sudan.
The WWL 2018 reporting period has been tough in many ways: It has been tough because Christians are losing their churches that they used to gather in and worship for years. It has been tough because the government has arrested or intimidated many Christian leaders. At least on one occasion the government exerted huge pressure on a committee elected by the church to hand over leadership to a committee that the government ‘supports’.
Islam is deeply embedded in Sudan's culture, and following the secession of the Christian-oriented South Sudan, Sudan became an even more majority-Islamic country. Sharia (Islamic law) is the foundation of Sudan's legal system, and the regime of President al-Bashir has made it clear the country is a Muslim country and should adopt a Sharia constitution. As well as using the blasphemy laws to target Christians for arrest and imprisonment, the government also keeps demolishing churches, often at very short notice.
The ethnic-cultural landscape of the country is also complicated: Arab versus ethnic African, Muslim versus Christian. The secession of South Sudan in 2011 did not solve these problems. This is particularly true for ethnic Africans, as a significant number are Christian and still living in the country. All Christian communities in Sudan are afraid of having conversations about their faith with Sudanese Muslims as this might be construed as being an ‘act that encourage apostasy against Islam’. The level of persecution that converts and ethnic Africans face is enormous. There have been arrests with charges of espionage; many churches have been demolished and others are on an official list awaiting demolition; many Christians are attacked indiscriminately in areas like the Nuba Mountains where there is an ongoing conflict between government forces and rebel groups.
So as not to be discovered, converts will often refrain from raising their children as Christians because this might attract the attention of the government and community leaders (since children might inadvertently reveal the faith of their parents). This fear even extends to funerals where Christians with a Muslim background who die are often buried according to Islamic rites in Muslim cemeteries, even though Christian and Muslim cemeteries are separate.
Through partnerships with the local church, Open Doors equips church leaders in Sudan for different aspects of ministry, supports community development, and provides practical assistance to persecuted Christians. This includes: