Sudan is rejoining the community of nations.
After 30 years of pariah status under former dictator Omar al-Bashir, the nation has established relations with Israel, taken steps to improve religious freedom, and ensured removal of its US designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo of Sudan has witnessed the entire history.
Born in 1957 in the Nuba Mountains region, he was ordained an Anglican priest at the age of 31. In 2003, he became bishop of the diocese of Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city.
In 2014, Kondo became archbishop of Sudan within overall administrative unity with South Sudan. And in 2017, he was enthroned as primate of the newly created Anglican Province of Sudan.
A critic of religious persecution under Bashir, Kondo has associated his church with the conservative Global South Movement in the Anglican Communion, as well as GAFCON, which seeks “to guard the unchanging, transforming gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world.”
CT spoke with Kondo about justice for the Palestinians, the need for a blasphemy law, and his ranking of Sudan’s religious freedom progress on a 10-point scale:
Your country has begun a process of normalizing with Israel. Are you in favor of this process?
I do support it, for the good of Sudan. Normalizing will be a good thing for development in economy, agriculture, technology, and other areas. It will open doors for relations with other countries.
And spiritually, it will enable [Sudanese] Christians to visit the Holy Land.
Are there Sudanese Christians against normalization?
I don’t think there are any. Israelis are human beings. Christians know that other Arab countries have relations, like Israel’s neighbors, Jordan and Egypt. So why not Sudan? They don’t see any reasons against it.
Historically, Sudan has taken strong stands in support of Palestine. How do Muslims feel about normalization?
Many Sudanese leaders say that by normalizing relations with Israel, it does not mean we stop our support for the oppressed Palestinians.
But some people are saying this is completely wrong, we can’t accept it. There have been demonstrations that burned the flags of both Israel and America.
Opinions are divided, but I think the majority believe that normalizing relations will do no harm to the Palestinian cause. We will still speak out for justice.
Sudan has made strides to improve the situation of religious freedom. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank the situation before the revolution, and now?
There has been no significant change. I would give it a 4, before and after.
There have been two good developments. One, Christmas has been declared a public holiday for everyone. Two, Christian schools can now operate on Saturday. The weekend is Friday and Saturday, with Sunday a working day. Now Christian schools can have Sunday off.
So maybe I can change my opinion, and give Sudan a 5, after the revolution.
There has also been an allowance of alcohol for Christians, and the repeal of the apostasy law.
These do not impact us very much.
Some people interpret the change to say that Christians are now allowed to drink. But actually, the Bible does not allow us to drink!
For apostasy, yes, this is correct. But while there is an official change on paper, in practice I do not think it will change much. Islam is a culture. You can be protected by law, but you cannot be protected from your relatives or the community.
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Source: Christianity Today