Home Headline News World Pastors jailed in Sudan as gov’t muscles church control by Morning Star News/Sudan Correspondent

Pastors jailed in Sudan as gov’t muscles church control by Morning Star News/Sudan Correspondent

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OMDURMAN, Sudan (BP) — Police arrested and interrogated seven Christian church leaders in Omdurman, Sudan Aug. 23 for refusing to turn over leadership of their church to the government, sources said.

The Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) leaders were interrogated for six hours and released on bail, charged with refusing to comply with an order to turn over leadership of their congregation to a committee appointed by Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments.

SCOC moderator Ayoub Mattan and SCOC head of missions Kwa Shamaal (also transliterated Kuwa Shamaal) were among those arrested. Shamaal was previously arrested Dec. 18, 2015 and acquitted more than two years later, Jan. 2, of charges ranging from spying to inciting hatred against the government.

Sudan had written a letter dated Aug. 14 ordering the SCOC to hand over church leadership to the government committee, sources said. When the church leaders refused, police opened a case against them, though it was unclear under what law.

“Police asked if we still maintain our stance on our refusal to acknowledge the committee appointed by the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, and we said yes, because it is not the work of the [government] ministry to appoint committees for the church,” Shamaal told Morning Star News.

Police said the arrests were in keeping with governmental orders to impose the committee as SCOC leadership, presumably to sell off the church property in Sudan’s bid to rid the country of Christianity. The pastors said the committee was contrary to SCOC’s constitution, which calls for general elections every three years to appoint new leadership.

Mattan, Shamaal and the others are still members of the legitimate executive committee of the SCOC, sources said. The current leadership term expires in March 2018.

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