Sudanese Christians were arrested and others injured on Wednesday in clashes between police and protesting Christians in the capital, Khartoum. The Christians were protesting against a government order to transfer Easter services from central Khartoum to the suburbs, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.
Thousands of Christians—almost all from the predominantly
Christian south—gathered in front of the All Saints Church in
Khartoum and began stoning cars. The protest came after about 40
Christians were detained on Tuesday, when the order was issued, AFP
said. The secretary-general of the Sudan Council of Churches, Enock
Tombe Stethen, said the church had refused to transfer the celebration
because of short notice, and because the proposed venue was
unsuitable. A number of journalists were also detained on
Wednesday when they attempted to attend a press conference by church
representatives, news agencies said.
Muhammad Dirdiery, Deputy Head of Mission in the Sudanese Embassy,
Nairobi, told IRIN that the service had been transferred for security
to avoid a confrontation between Muslims and
Christians. He blamed hardline Christian groups in the west of
fomenting trouble in Sudan, and said the demonstrations had been
religious right-wingers. Dirdiery said it was part
of a campaign by western evangelist groups to portray the war in Sudan
as a religious war, which, he said, was an
Sudan respects the right of all people to practise
their religion, but the government has a duty to maintain law an
order, he told IRIN.
Spokesman for the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army
(SPLA) in Nairobi, Samson Kwaje, told IRIN that the government had
ruthlessly suppressed the Christian meeting, which was an
inter-denominational service led by a visiting German evangelical
preacher, Reinhard Bonnke. Kwaje condemned the action by police and
said tear gas canisters had been used against church members. He it
clear intolerance by the government and an attack on
It shows us that we can never go anywhere with the
question of separation of religion and state.
Church leaders had called for an investigation into the clashes and a meeting between Christian leaders and President Umar al-Bashir, AFP reported.