Hope in Sudan as first Christian appointed to ruling party

Sudan is the sixth worst country in the world to be a Christian but good news has arrived, with the swearing in of a new member to the Sovereignty Council, the African nation’s governing body.

In September, Raja Nicola Issa Abdul-Masseh became the first Christian to join the Council, which will lead Sudan until general elections in 2022.

The ethno-religious Copts in Sudan are one of the country’s largest Christian communities. As reported by VOA News, Coptic Amir Joseph Suleman said Copts have wanted government representation for a long time.

“I do believe that we are turning the page on religious oppression, and I think that the appointment of Raja Nicola is a victory not just for the Christians in Sudan but for freedom in Sudan,” said Suleman.

Copts were part of the protest movement that, in April, forced former president Omar al-Bashir from the office he had held for three decades (which had included ruling over the region that, in 2011, became the independent Republic of South Sudan).

As noted by Open Doors – an organisation dedicated to supporting persecuted Christians – al-Bashir’s Sudan was repressive and dangerous for Christians.

“Sudan is a staunchly Islamic country known for supporting Islamic extremist groups,” states the World Watch List 2019, that named Sudan the sixth worst country to be a Christian.

“President al-Bashir wants to establish an Islamic state and ensure that all citizens follow strict Sharia (Islamic) laws. Sudanese Christians face persecution daily.

“Churches are destroyed, church leaders are often arrested and falsely accused of crimes they did not commit, and there are extremely high levels of violence.”

Abdul-Masseh’s appointment to the Sovereignty Council suggests Sudan’s position on next year’s World Watch List will be notably different.

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