Sudanese Police Torture Convert Student

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, October 8 (Compass) -- A Sudanese student who converted from Islam to Christianity was severely beaten and tortured by security police in Khartoum two weeks ago, apparently at his own family's instigation.

Mohammed Saeed Mohammed Omer Omer confirmed to Compass today that his uncle had threatened to kill him on September 19, just three days before he was arrested off a Khartoum street.

Omer's family had become determined to force the young convert to stop attending church and meeting with Christians, a local Christian said. Security officials picked him up on September 22, as he was returning from a personal discipleship appointment with a local pastor.

"He was tortured and beaten," the source said, "and he lost three fingernails pulled out with pliers." The convert reportedly was forced by security police to sign papers promising not to attend any church or Christian gatherings again.

Omer has refused, however, to renounce his faith in Christ.

Omer became a Christian last December, while studying economics in an Indian university near New Delhi. When his parents were informed by some of their son's Sudanese acquaintances in India that Omer had "abandoned the way and faith of Islam," they ordered him to return home.

To punish him for his decision, Omer's family told him they planned to publicly disown him by cutting off his share of the family's wealth as soon as he returned, in the presence of the entire family and a lawyer. Since he was dependent totally on their financing, Omer saw no other choice, and caught an Ethiopian Air flight back to Sudan on July 17.

But as soon as he arrived, his family confiscated his return ticket and passport, threatening to turn him over to the security police if he did not recant and return to Islam. Omer persisted, however, in attending church services and other Christian meetings in Khartoum over the next two months.

After his uncle's death threat, Omer moved away from home to live with a friend. But since his arrest and torture, he remains under virtual house arrest by his family, who try to monitor his telephone calls and limit his use of the Internet.

"Right now he is recovering," a local source said. "But he does not know what to do next."

Assist News Service. Used with Permission.