Sudanese Convert to Christianity Forced into Hiding

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, February 7 (Compass) -- A Sudanese convert to Christianity was forced into hiding this week after severe beatings and torture by state security police, who for the second time refused to allow the former Muslim to leave Sudan through the Khartoum airport.

Church sources in Khartoum confirmed today that after Aladin Omer Agabni Mohammed checked in for his Sunday morning flight on February 3, he was again turned back by security authorities. He had been told the night before that the travel ban blocking his previous trip on January 30 had been lifted, and that he should come to the airport the next morning to depart.

Instead, Mohammed was taken off for interrogation by two security officers and two soldiers, who confiscated his passport as well as $200 and 1,300 Sudanese dinars ($5) and then beat him severely.

The four officials used abusive language, reportedly calling anyone who converted from Islam to Christianity an "animal." They threatened to "eliminate" him if he told anyone how he had been treated.

When the police sent him away, he decided not to return to his previous lodgings and went into hiding.

Mohammed's family home has since been searched, with two of his brothers arrested by the police to force them to confess where their brother is hiding.

The former Muslim had been restricted to Khartoum after he was stopped on January 30, and given orders to report to the security police offices several times a day. He was kept under surveillance in his lodgings, and according to one source, received "nothing but insults, threats and some mishandling" every day from police officials.

Church sources in Khartoum confirmed that in late January, security police had injected Mohammed at least three times with unknown drug substances that made him drowsy, taking him 12 hours or more to sleep off each dose. "He didn't know what was happening around him," the source said, "so we were trying to get him out of this situation." Mohammed was planning to travel via Uganda to enroll in a Christian seminary in Kenya.

Now 34, Mohammed converted to Christianity 11 years ago while a university student. At the hands of the Khartoum regime's security police, he has since had his right hand broken, undergone torture with melting blocks of ice on his chest, and been beaten severely while under arrest.

"The government here will not allow any Muslim to convert," noted a Christian leader in Khartoum, "and yet they are talking about Muslim-Christian dialogue. We cannot contend with this problem inside Sudan, without letting people outside know that there are injustices going on here."

Sudanese law calls for the death penalty for a Muslim who commits apostasy by converting to another faith.

Copyright 2002, Compass News Direct. Used with Permission.