Skip to main content

Witnesses: Sudan demolishes church in latest persecution of Christians

By CNN Staff
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
A Sudanese government force destroyed a church in Khartoum on Monday, witnesses said.
A Sudanese government force destroyed a church in Khartoum on Monday, witnesses said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Witnesses: A Sudan government force destroyed a church near the capital
  • The government warned it would happen, a priest says
  • Sudanese officials did not return calls from CNN
  • Demolition follows the release of a woman who was sentenced to death for being Christian

(CNN) -- A Sudanese government force destroyed a church Monday, ignoring the wails of nearby residents, witnesses told journalists working for CNN.

The attack came a day after authorities sent a letter saying they would demolish the church, priest Kuoa Shimal said.

Government sources did not immediately return calls from CNN.

Complaints about the predominantly Muslim country's lack of religious freedom came under the international spotlight recently after Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, a Christian mother of two, refused to renounce her faith and was sentenced to death. After an international outcry, she was freed and reunited with her American husband.

The 70-strong force Monday arrived at the Alizba slums near the capital, Khartoum, around 10 a.m., witnesses said. Some were dressed in plain clothes.

CNN visited the scene afterward, where the religious site was reduced to rubble.

In April 2013, the Sudanese minister of religious affairs announced that no licenses would be granted to allow for the building of new churches -- less than two years after the predominantly Christian South Sudan seceded to form an independent country.

During a brief territorial war between Sudan and South Sudan in April 2012, a mob of Islamist extremists attacked and destroyed a church west of Khartoum despite a police cordon around it.

The threat of violence has caused Sudan's churches to empty. At a recent Sunday service, worshipers asked CNN not to identify them by name.

"The church is now contaminated with terror. You don't feel safe in prayer," one Christian activist said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT