Thursday, 28 February 2013
(Reuters) - When Pastor Kamis went to visit his small church in the Sudanese capital just before Christmas last year, he found a pile of rubble and the remains of a single blue wall.
Hours earlier, authorities had sent in a bulldozer and workers backed by police to demolish the Africa Inland church, which used to lie in a slum suburb of Khartoum.
The structure was one of several small churches that the government has knocked down over the past few months, shocking Christians who worry they will not be able to practice their faith in majority-Muslim Sudan now that the country's south - where most follow Christianity or traditional animist beliefs - has seceded.
"The government says the land was owned by some businessman, but I think they destroyed our church because they want to target Christians," said Kamis, a native of South Sudan, which split away in July 2011.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a "100 percent" Islamic constitution now that the South has split off . . . authorities started a crackdown in December and it has been getting worse.
Several church-affiliated institutions such as orphanages or schools have also been closed and a number of foreigners working for them have been deported, according to the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, a global ecumenical church body.
"Christians in the north are compromised because they are no longer respected. They cannot even celebrate Christmas anymore," said Daniel Deng Bul, the Juba-based archbishop and primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which covers both Sudans and is part of the Anglican community.
Most southerners have moved south since the birth of their country but some 350,000 are estimated to remain in Khartoum. Some Christians also live in the Nuba Mountains, a region bordering South Sudan.
Although Muslims have dominated Sudan for centuries, Christian roots go back to the 5th century.
Posted on 02/28/2013 3:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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