Two pastors in Sudan are facing possible death sentences after criticizing the Islamist government’s treatment of Christians, according to reports. #Christophobia #ChristianPersecution
Pastors Yat Michael Rout and Peter Yein Reith have been held in a prison in Khartoum since December and January respectively, and are facing charges of espionage and ‘undermining the constitution’.
Supporters of the two Presbyterian pastors, both from South Sudan, say the accusations are baseless and are part of a long-running attempt by the government to ‘stamp out Christianity’.
Yat Michael Ruot was arrested in December after allegedly condemning the sale of church land in Khartoum and expressing concern about the treatment of Christians in Sudan.
Peter Yein Reith was arrested a few weeks later after inquiring about Pastor Ruot in a letter he sent to the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum, supporters say/
The pastors have been charged jointly with acts of criminal conspiracy, undermining the constitutional system, espionage, disclosure and receipt of official information or documents, promoting hatred amongst sect, breach of public peace and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs.
Two of the six charges, undermining the constitutional system and espionage, carry the death penalty or life imprisonment in the event of a guilty verdict.
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, told Fox News that the charges are going forward despite there being absolutely no evidence that the pastors did anything illegal.
‘This is a sham trial. They always use the national security threat,’ Sekulow said. ‘In their view, the proclamation of a faith-based message is tantamount to a national security breach.’
Christians have historically suffered persecution in Sudan, a country which split as recently as 2011 following a referendum to end the long-running civil war.
Several Christian organisations report that the persecution of Christians in South Sudan have become worse since it became an independent country.
The case of the two pastors echo that of Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old woman who had been sentenced to death for her Christian faith last year.
Mrs Ibrahim was pregnant with her second child when she was sentenced to hanging and 100 lashes for adultery and apostasy for marrying Christian Daniel Wani.
Born to a Ethopian Orthodox mother and a Muslim father, the local courts ruled that despite being brought up a Christian she was a Muslim.
She was finally freed in in June 2014 following an international outcry and was helped to travel to the U.S., where her husband Daniel Wani had citizenship.