Sudanese authorities arrested a pastor in Omdurman as he was preaching on Sunday, Feb. 23, according to Christian Today news service of Australia.
Personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department entered the compound of Omdurman Evangelical Church and arrested the Rev. Yahya Abdelrahim Nalu of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC). Omdurman is opposite Khartoum on the River Nile in the predominantly Islamic nation of Sudan.
Authorities held Nalu at the Central Khartoum Police Station for two days. The government of Sudan has practiced a policy of seizing control of SPEC property by attempting to replace SPEC leadership with those loyal to the Islamic regime. Although the government’s action is a civil matter, officials sent the criminal investigators to take Nalu into custody and treated the pastor as if he were a criminal, sources said.
The Federal Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments seeks to replace Nalu, senior leader at the church and moderator of the SPEC Synod, with a government-appointed committee that favors turning SPEC properties over to the government, they said.
The arrest of Nalu continues a pattern of harassment of SPEC in Sudan that began with the secession of South Sudan in July, 2011. Arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since secession, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.
Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians, according to the Morning Star News.
Since April 2012, a SPEC compound in Khartoum has been subject to attempted takeovers and attacks by Islamic extremists, according to Christian Today news service.
Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and in April, 2013, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the country remain on the list.