JUBA, South Sudan, September 16, 2022 (Morning Star News) – A court in Sudan on Sept. 8 dismissed apostasy charges against four Christians who were threatened with the death penalty unless they recanted, sources said.
Judge Ibrahim Hamza dismissed the apostasy charges against the Christians in Central Darfur state, stating that apostasy is no longer a crime in Sudan, their attorney said.
Initially arrested on June 24 in Zalingei, Central Darfur, the four converts from Islam had been subjected to degrading treatment while questioned, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). They were released that day but re-arrested on June 28.
“On July 3 the men were brought before the prosecutor, who told them they would face the death penalty if they did not renounce their Christian faith and agree not to pray, share their faith or participate in any activities that would identify them as Christians,” CSW stated. “The men refused and were charged with apostasy.”
Bader el Dean Haroon Abdel Jabaar, his brother Mohammad Haroon Abdel Jabaar, Tariq Adam Abdalla and Morthada Ismail were arrested from their church in Zalingei and held until their release on bail in early July, according to local sources.
They were arrested on apostasy charges under Article 126 of Sudan’s 1991 criminal code – which was nullified in 2020. In July 2020 the transitional government that took effect in September 2019 decriminalized apostasy, which had been punishable by death. Sudan’s 2020 Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act prohibits the labeling of any group as “infidels” (takfir), according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
The church the four Christians had formed was authorized by Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments during the transitional period, but it has closed due to threats and attacks by area Muslim extremists, according to CSW. Three other churches have closed in Zalingei this year due to an increase in threats and violence, the group reported.