Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan Demands Sudan Stop Demolishing Churches

A high-ranking U.S. State Department official has demanded that the Sudanese government put an end to the systematic confiscation and demolition of churches and mosques.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan reportedly said during a speech last Friday in Sudan’s second largest city that in order for relations between the oppressive nation and the United States to improve, the county must do a better job of protecting free speech and religious expression.

“The government of Sudan, including the federal states, should also immediately suspend demolition of places of worships, including mosques and churches,” AFP quoted Sullivan as saying in a speech at Al-Koran Al-Karim University in Omdurman.

As Sudan ranks as the fifth-worst county in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA, its government has gained a reputation for arresting Christians who have refused to give up control of their church properties to the government. A number of the churches in question have been destroyed by the government.

According to World Watch Monitor, Sullivan explained that the 2017 State Department International Religious Freedom report highlighted “instances of the arrest, detention, and intimidation of religious leaders,” as well as “the denial of permits for the construction of new churches; restrictions on non-Muslim religious groups from entering the country; and the censorship of religious material.”

Most recently in October, five Christian leaders were arrested because of their refusal to give over control of the church. In August, seven other Christian leaders were detained.

Sullivan’s comments occured during his two-day visit in Sudan in which he met with Sudanese officials and called for an improvement to the human rights situation in the predominantly Muslim country.

Sullivan’s visit comes as the Trump administration formally lifted two-decade old economic sanctions against Sudan last month, a move that was criticized by many. Sullivan is the first member of the Trump administration to visit Sudan since the Sanctions were lifted in October.

Human rights and religious freedom advocates from around the world have long called out Sudan for its poor human rights record under President Omar al-Bashir. Activists have accused Sudanese authorities of not only detaining pastors and religious leaders but also political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists.

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Source: Christian Post