Sharpton wrong about Sudan: it IS about Christian persecution

Friday, May 18, 2001

Voice of the Martyrs
April 18, 2001

Rev. Al Sharpton recently returned from Sudan after a fact-finding trip to address the issue of slavery in the Africa’s largest nation.

Sharpton came back calling for action by human rights groups against the trade of human beings, but was notably silent on the issue of Christians being persecuted by the Islamic government of northern Sudan.

"Our position is that slavery is wrong no matter who the slave master or the slave is," Sharpton said at his National Action Network headquarters in Harlem. "This is not about Muslims vs. Christians. This is about right vs. wrong."

However, teams from The Voice of the Martyrs have found repeated instances of Sudanese people being persecuted for their Christian faith.

"The government [in Khartoum] is telling people in South Sudan, even today, ‘If you agree to become Muslims, this war will end in 24 hours,’" says Hamilton Lugor, VOM’s Sudan program officer.

A VOM team visiting Sudan in February met with numerous Christians who have faced direct persecution because of their faith. The team also was present for the first graduation ceremony at the David Loudon Memorial Bible School, a VOM-sponsored Bible training center in South Sudan.

The team met with Southern Sudanese people who less than a month before had been forced to flee their villages to avoid attacks by the Khartoum-backed Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Thirteen of the villagers didn’t escape in time, and were killed by LRA troops. The LRA is an Ugandan rebel group which is supported by Sudan’s Islamic government.

The villagers, at the approach of the LRA soldiers, were forced to leave behind all that they owned and run. Today they are living as displaced persons in their own country.

Often, attacking radical Muslims give Christians in South Sudan three choices: convert to Islam, be killed, or flee for their lives.

"We are pleased to see Rev. Sharpton raising public awareness about the situation in Sudan," said Todd Nettleton, VOM spokesman. "But it is disappointing that he is not telling the whole story. He is not telling the story of people attacked and persecuted solely because they choose to follow Christ instead of becoming Muslims."

The Voice of the Martyrs is an organization dedicated to supporting Christians in nations where they are persecuted for their faith. VOM has been actively involved with Christians in Sudan since 1996.

Voice of the Martyrs. Used with Permission.