By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KHARTOUM (Worthy News) - A pastor in east-central Sudan has been sentenced to one-month imprisonment for “disturbing the peace” after an attack by Islamist extremists, Christians said Tuesday.
Pastor Estefanos and three women from the church reportedly required medical attention after the extremists attacked a service on Sunday, April 10.
Bibles and furniture belonging to the church in the town of al-Haj Abdallah were also damaged in the raid, according to ti Christians familiar with the situation. “The Islamist group had previously appealed to the local authorities to have the church closed,” added Christian charity, Barnabas Fund. “A police officer who is a member of the extremist group filed the complaint against Pastor Estefanos,” Barnabas Fund told Worthy News, using one name.
The pastor and one of the attackers were convicted in a court hearing in April for “disturbing the peace.” Each was given a one-month sentence, trial observers said.
Pastor Estefanos reportedly plans to appeal against his sentence.
Sudan is a Muslim-majority country, where Christians are estimated at 3 percent of the population. “Since the end of President Omar al-Bashir’s 20-year spell in office in April 2019, the country had moved towards greater religious tolerance,” explained Barnabas Fund. The reforms included abolishing in July 2020 the death penalty for “apostasy” or abandoning Islam.
“There are fears, however, that a military coup undertaken in October 2021 will lead to increased persecution of Christians,” Barnabas Fund said.
Christians urged prayers that Pastor Estefanos’ appeal will be successful “and that whatever the outcome, the Lord will grant peace to both the pastor and the church.”
They also urged to “Pray that the authorities will not heed the extremists' calls and that the church in al-Haj Abdallah will be able to meet in safety.”