A Sudanese pastor has been found innocent of charges that he had obstructed a court-ordered demolition of his church in Khartoum.
Pastor Hafiz Mengisto of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, along with his lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa, were arrested after challenging engineers who tried to take down a church building on July 1st last year. Their trial began on December 14th.
The case against Mustafa was dismissed on December 23rd, and against Pastor Mengisto on December 29th.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the men’s acquittal, but said it remains “deeply concerned by the State’s repressive actions against religious minorities in Sudan”.
Pastor Mengisto suffered head injuries while in police custody, and the leader of discipleship at his church, Talahon Nigosi Kassa Ratta, remains in custody after being arrested on 14th December.
Two other pastors of a different denomination, Rev Kwa Shamal and Rev Hassan Abduraheem of the Sudan Church of Christ, were also arrested on 19th December.
CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, has called for their immediate release. “Their detention without charge is in clear violation of their right to liberty and security of person as detailed in article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is a party,” he said.
Thomas urged the African Union to hold Sudan to account in its constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.
According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF”s) the Sudanese government “continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.”
Designated by the Commission as a ‘country of particular concern’ since 1999, Sudan’s population is over 97 per cent Muslim, and the country’s criminal code restricts religious freedom for all citizens. It also imposes Shariah Law on Muslims and Christians, allowing the death penalty for apostasy, stoning for adultery and prison sentences for blasphemy.
- Give thanks for the release of Pastor Mengisto and his lawyer, and for their aquittal of all charges.
- Pray for the pastors and other Christians in prison in Sudan for their beliefs. Pray for protection for them in prison, for their families and for the comfort and peace of God to surround them.
- Pray for Sudan’s government to uphold the constitution and the right to religious freedom. Pray that other African countries will hold the government of Sudan to account for this freedom.
- Pray for Sudan, for a move of the holy Spirit across this nation and for many to have life changing encounters with the living Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 13 vs 3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.“
Source: http://www.christiantoday.com, http://www.persecution.org/2016