South Sudan became an independent state in 2011 and many people there practice Christianity.
But in neighboring Sudan, there is a different story. Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has called for a 100 percent Islamic constitution now that the South has split off.
While Rabie Abdelati, a senior official in Bashir’s National Congress Party says “All religions can practice their faith in total freedom. There are no restrictions at all,” the actual practice does not follow.
Christians remain wary even though the government assures them that the new constitution will guarantee religious freedom. Christians say that the Sudan authorities started a crackdown on Christians in late 2012 and things have become progressively worse.
Juba-based archbishop and primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan says “Christians in the north are compromised because they are no longer respected. They cannot even celebrate Christmas anymore.”
Islam has long been prevalent in Sudan, but there have been Christians there since the 5th century. Christian Missionaries were active in Sudan in the 1800s.
But Christians would have reason to be wary based on the fact that over two weeks ago the Sudan government detained at least 55 Christians on “false accusations” of receiving money from other countries, including Israel.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the group was held as part of a wider crackdown on Christians.
In a statement CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “CSW is deeply concerned at these arbitrary arrests and news of an escalating crackdown on Christian citizens in Sudan. We urge the Sudanese government to release these prisoners and end its campaign of harassment against the Christian community. We also urge the government once again to undertake broad
consultations during the drafting of the new constitution and to ensure that it recognizes the
rights of all Sudanese citizens, to freedom of religion or belief, as outlined in Article 18 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a signatory.”