Seven church leaders in Sudan were fined this week charged with 'objection to the authorities', as Christian protest over state confiscation of churches continues.
On Monday seven leaders from the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), which has faced government tensions for several years, were handed fines according to World Watch Monitor.
Church elder Yohanna Tia was fined 5,000 Sudanese pounds (£197), while SPEC moderator Rev Dawoud Fadul and Rev Edris Kartina were each fined 2,500 Sudanese pounds (£98). School director Ustaz Dauod Musa Namnam was fined also, alongside three other believers, while 19 Christians were released free of charge due to lack of evidence against them.
Tension between the Sudanese government and SPEC began in 2012, when the government reinstated the chair of the SPEC's Evangelical Community Council, who had previously been dismissed for fraud. After complaining of his removal to the state, Hamad Muhammad Salah was reinstated to the role of council chair despite the government lacking the authority to make such a move.
Since then, Salah is alleged to have been selling church property, which the Evangelical Community Council is responsible for, to businessmen with government affiliations. Churches belonging to the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) have also been confiscated or destroyed. Church members who peacefully protested them have found themselves imprisoned and physically assaulted by authorities. SPEC resistance to the forcible takeover of one of its school properties last year resulted in the stabbing to death of church elder Younan Abdallah, according to Middle East Concern.
Monday also saw another ongoing case involving Sudanese church leaders and the state, as World Watch Monitor reported. Five leaders from the SCOC – Ayouba Telyan, Abdelbagi Tutu, Ali El Hakim, Ambarator Hamad and Haibil Ibrahim – were arrested last October, after which the government demanded they hand over church ownership to a state-approved committee. The church leaders refused, and were released, but were arrested days later for their churches being allegedly 'too noisy'. Monday's court hearing was adjourned until March 6.