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Sudanese police denies closure of church in Khartoum state

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Sudanese worshippers outside Soba Al Aradi church after its demolishment on Sunday 7 May 2017 (ST Photo)
October 28, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese police Friday said it had closed a church in Khartoum state and temporarily arrested its priest after a conflict between its team members over the Pastoral Care Ministry and upon the request of its leaders.

A police force stormed the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), in Al-Thawra 29 neighbourhood in Khartoum state on Sunday 22 October and prevented workshop service before ordering the closure of the church.

The Police arrested the church leaders, Rev. Ayoub Tiliyan, SCOC moderator; the Rev. Ali Haakim Al Aam, pastor-in-charge of the Al-Thawra 29 congregation; and pastor Ambrator Hammad, according to a Sudanese group of faith called "International Solidarity Campaign with Sudanese Christians (ISCSC).

"There was a dispute over the caring ministry of the Sudanese Church of Christ in Al-Thawra 29 neighbourhood between the Northern Sudan Circle group and the New Circles group of the church. The Churches Affairs Directorate at the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, received a complaint and set a time for each group in a decision issued on 27 May 2017," said a statement issued on Friday.

However, the churches directorate cancelled its previous decision in August 2017 and tasked only the Northern Sudan group with the care ministry. The two parties were notified the decision in the presence of the police.

"But the New Circles group did not comply with the decision. (Its rejection) upset worshipers and might cause clashes between the two groups," the police said.

The statement further said that the New Circles group had been summoned and advised to commit themselves to the decision but they did not comply. "Following what the police went to the church, arrested five offenders and filed a complaint against them for causing chaos and riot".

The Sudanese police, also said ts force did not demolish or cause any damage to the church building, stressing that it had intervened at the request of the church officials in order to "maintain security" and "protect worshipers"

The Sudanese police released the arrested Church leaders after the filing of the complaint on the same day.

In a statement released after the arrest of the religious leaders, the ISCSC group called to support the detainees and vowed to inform the international community and international religious organizations about the government’s violations of the rights of Christians in Sudan.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump repealed economic sanctions on the Sudan in line with a five-tracks agreement and after Khartoum commitment to respect religious freedoms. Washington said it would consider different means to press the Sudanese government if it prosecutes Christians.

(ST)

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