Another evangelical church demolished in Muslim-majority Sudan

Worshippers in Baraka Parish church on the outskirts of Sudan's capital, Khartoum. Churches are being targeted in the Muslim-majority country.Reuters

There are growing fears for Christians in Sudan after another church was destroyed.

Police in Omdurman, Sudan have demolished the local Lutheran Evangelical church building. The church was close to a mosque that was left standing. Building of any new churches in Sudan is banned so the building cannot be replaced.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide said: "The destruction of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Omdurman is an alarming development that comes amid reports that other Evangelical Lutheran Churches have been destroyed in Sudan in the last fortnight.

"These incidents are part of the government's systematic restrictions on the rights and freedoms of Sudan's religious minorities, that principally target the Christian faith. Of particular note is the fact the church in Hai Thura Block 29 was situated metres from a mosque that was allowed to remain standing, highlighting discrimination in the selection process of redevelopment projects.

"The congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church has not only lost its meeting place but also faces permanent displacement, since the government no longer permits the construction of new churches. CSW calls on the Sudanese government to respect the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of religion or belief, both in law and in practice, and to cease the illegal destruction of Christian places of worship."

Omdurman is the largest city in Sudan, opposite the capital Khartoum on the west bank of the Nile.

Morning Star News reported that the church, used by Sudanese as well as Evangelical Lutherans, was rammed by a bulldozer, apparently because it was in a business area of the city. Church leaders said this could not have been the reason because the mosque nearby was left standing.

"The government has lied to us, because they told us that this church will not be demolished," said one leader who for security reasons did not give his name.

Sudan has been bulldozing church buildings, raiding Christian bookstores, arresting Christians and expelling foreign Christians since South Sudan seceded in 2011.

Another church building in Obada, Omdurman was bulldozed last year.

The Sudan Pentecostal Church in Khartoum, which also housed the Khartoum Christian Center, was padlocked last year.

Sudan is designated a Country of Particular Concern by the United States and is ranked sixth on the Open Doors latest watch list. Open Doors reports: "Islam is deeply embedded in Sudan's culture. Islamic law is the foundation of the nation's justice system, and apostasy (converting to a different religion) is punishable by death. Such blasphemy laws are frequently used to prosecute Christians, particularly Muslim-background believers, and a significant number of Christians have been imprisoned. President Bashir has used the rise of radical Islam to maintain his power base, and as such his government has demolished churches, killed Christians through targeted bombings and allowed others to kill Christians with impunity."