The INC provides for freedom of religious creed and worship, and grants individuals the right to declare their religious beliefs and manifest them through worship, education, practice, or performance, subject to requirements of laws and public order. It prohibits the coercion of individuals to adopt a faith they do not believe in or to engage in rites or services without consent. Authorities may suspend these rights during a state of emergency. The INC states that nationally-enacted legislation shall be based on sharia. The government has not amended the INC to reflect the 2011 independence of South Sudan.
The INC allows religious groups to establish and maintain humanitarian and charitable institutions, acquire property and materials related to their religious rites and customs, write and disseminate religious publications, teach religion, solicit public and private contributions, select their own leaders, observe days of rest, celebrate religious holidays, and communicate with constituents on matters of religion.
The INC states that where the majority of residents do not practice the religion or customs on which the national legislation is based, citizens may introduce new legislation consistent with their religion and customs or refer the existing legislation to the Council of States, the lower house of parliament.
The INC denies recognition to any political party that discriminates based on religion and specifically prohibits religious discrimination against candidates for the national civil service. Constitutional violations of freedom of religion may be pursued in the Constitutional Court; however, cases of discrimination often originate and are addressed in lower courts dealing with civil or criminal charges.
National laws are based on a sharia system of jurisprudence. The criminal code states the law, including state and local, shall be based on sharia sources and include hudood, qisas, and diyah principles (specific serious crimes and related restitution and punishment). The criminal code takes into consideration multiple sharia schools of jurisprudence (madhahib). The Islamic Panel of Scholars and Preachers (Fiqh Council) determines under which conditions a particular school of thought will apply. Other criminal and civil laws, including public order laws, are determined at the state and local level.
The law does not prohibit individuals from converting to Islam from another religion. The criminal code does not explicitly mention proselytizing, but criminalizes both conversion from Islam to any other faith (apostasy) and acts that encourage conversion from Islam. Those who convert from Islam to another religion as well as any Muslim who questions or criticizes the teachings of the Quran, the Sahaba (the Companions of the Prophet), or the wives of the Prophet may also be considered guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death. Those charged with apostasy are allowed to repent within a period decided by the court, but may still face up to five years in prison.
The criminal code’s section on “religious offenses” criminalizes various acts committed against any religion. These include insulting religion, blasphemy, disturbing places of worship, and trespassing upon places of burial. The criminal code states, “whoever insults any religion, their rights or beliefs or sanctifications or seeks to excite feelings of contempt and disrespect against the believers thereof” shall be punished with up to six months in prison, flogging of up to 40 lashes, and/or a fine. The article includes provisions that prescribe penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and 40 lashes for any non-Muslim who curses the Prophet Muhammad, his wives, or members of his respective households.
The Ministry of Guidance and Endowments (MGE) regulates Islamic religious practice, including activities such as reviewing Friday sermons at mosques, supervises churches, and is responsible for guaranteeing equal treatment for all religious groups. The MGE also provides recommendations to relevant ministries regarding religious issues government ministries encounter. The president appoints the Fiqh Council, an official body of 40 Muslim religious scholars responsible for explaining and interpreting Islamic jurisprudence, to four-year renewable terms. The council advises the government and issues fatwas on religious matters, including levying customs duties on the importation of religious materials, payment of interest on loans for public infrastructure, and determination of government-allotted annual leave for Islamic holidays. The council’s opinions are not legally binding. Muslim religious scholars are free to present differing religious and political viewpoints in public.
To gain official recognition by the government, religious groups must register at the state level with the MGE, or a related ministry such as the Ministry of Culture, or the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), depending on the nature of the group and its activities. The HAC oversees NGOs and nonprofit organizations. Religious groups that also engage in humanitarian or development activities must register with those bodies as nonprofit NGOs by filing a standard application required by the HAC for both local and international NGOs. The application must include the names and addresses of founding members, a copy of the organization’s constitution, and an organization chart, and be accompanied by a fee. Such organizations must have at least 30 members, although the relevant minister may register an organization with fewer members if it provides proof of its financial stability. In addition, the law states an international NGO may not be from a country in a state of war with Sudan, must be registered in its country of origin, have an approved registration certificate from a Sudanese embassy or diplomatic mission, present evidence of its financial and technical capabilities, and meet other conditions the minister may apply. Groups registered with the HAC must then submit their activities and financial statements to the government for review and approval. Only religious groups that register are eligible to apply for other administrative benefits, including land ownership, tax exemptions, and work permits.
The law does not permit Shia Muslims to hold worship services; however, they are allowed to enter Sunni mosques to pray.
The state-mandated education curriculum requires that all students receive religious instruction. It further mandates that all schools, including international schools and private schools operated by Christian groups, provide Islamic education classes to Muslim students, from preschool through the second year of university. The law does not require non-Muslims to attend Islamic education classes, and mandates that public schools provide Christian students with other religious instruction if there are at least 15 Christian students in a class. According to the Ministry of Education, following the separation of South Sudan, this ratio has not been met in most schools. Non-Muslim students therefore normally attend religious study classes of their own religion outside of regular school hours in order to fulfill the religious instruction requirement.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for determining the religious education curriculum. According to the ministry, the Islamic curriculum must follow the Sunni tradition.
The MGE determines, along with the state-level entities responsible for land grants and planning, whether to provide authorization or permits to build new houses of worship, taking into account zoning concerns such as the distance between religious institutions and population density (the allocation of land to religious entities is determined at the state level). The MGE is mandated to assist both mosques and churches in obtaining tax exemptions and duty-free permits to import items such as furniture and religious items for houses of worship; it also assists visitors attending meetings sponsored by religious groups and activities to obtain tourist visas through the Ministry of Interior. The MGE also coordinates travel for the Hajj and Umra for government representatives.
Public order laws, based largely on the government’s interpretation of sharia, vary by state. These laws prohibit “indecent” dress and other “offenses of honor, reputation, and public morality.” Authorities primarily enforce such laws in large cities and enforce laws governing indecent dress against both Muslims and non-Muslims. The criminal code states that acts are contrary to public morality if they are deemed so by the religion of the person performing the act or the custom of the country where the act occurs. In practice, the special Public Order Police and courts, which derive their authority from the Ministry of Interior, have wide latitude in interpreting what dress or behaviors are indecent and in arresting and passing sentence on accused offenders.
Some aspects of the criminal code specify punishments for Muslims based on government interpretation of sharia punishment principles. For example, the criminal code stipulates 40 lashes for a Muslim who drinks, possesses, or sells alcohol; no punishment is prescribed for a non-Muslim who drinks or possesses alcohol in private. The criminal code stipulates if a non-Muslim is arrested for public drinking, or possessing or selling alcohol, he or she is subject to trial, but the punishment will not be based on hudood principles. The INC was amended in August to change the penalty for adultery with a married person from stoning to hanging (a punishment more commonly executed than stoning, according to legal experts). The penalty for adultery by an unmarried person is 100 lashes. An unmarried man could additionally be punished with expatriation for up to one year. These penalties apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Adultery is defined as sexual activity outside of marriage, prior to marriage, or in a marriage that is determined to be void. The code was not changed after the secession of South Sudan, and most articles of the code specify punishments according to region, the North (majority Muslim) and the then-South (majority Christian), rather than the religion of the accused.
Under the law, the justice minister may release any prisoner who memorizes the Quran during his or her prison term. The release requires a recommendation for parole from the prison’s director-general and a religious committee composed of the Sudan Scholars Organization and members of the Fiqh Council, which consults with the MGE to ensure decisions comply with Islamic legal regulations.
Under the law, a Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim woman (although most Sudanese sharia schools of thought advise that the non-Muslim women must be “people of the book,” i.e. either Christian or Jewish). A Muslim woman, however, legally may only marry a Muslim man. A Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man may be charged with adultery.
Separate family courts exist for Muslims and non-Muslims to address personal status issues such as marriage, divorce, and child custody, according to their religion. By law, in custody dispute cases where one parent is Muslim and the other is Christian, courts grant custody to the Muslim parent if there is any concern that the non-Muslim parent would raise the child in a religion other than Islam.
According to Islamic personal status laws, Christians (including children) may not inherit assets from a Muslim.
Government offices and businesses are closed on Friday for prayers and follow an Islamic work week of Sunday to Thursday. The law requires employers to give Christian employees two hours off on Sundays for religious activity. Leave from work is also granted to celebrate Orthodox Christmas, an official state holiday, along with several key Islamic holidays.
An interministerial committee, which includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), and in some cases Military Intelligence, must approve foreign clergy and other foreigners seeking a residency permit.
The INC’s bill of rights says all rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants, and instruments ratified by the country are integral parts of the INC’s bill of rights.
The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Summary paragraph: A member of the government-appointed ECC of the SPECS killed a SPECS elder during an altercation. Plainclothes police reportedly witnessed but did not intervene in the attack, and then arrested the alleged attacker, whose trial was pending at year’s end. A Khartoum court in January convicted a Czech Christian aid worker, a Sudanese Church of Christ pastor, and a Sudanese student from Dafur of crimes including espionage and “warring against the state.” The three were pardoned separately in February and May. While authorities permitted the Czech aid worker to immediately leave the country, the two Sudanese were eventually allowed to leave the country after intense international pressure prompted the government to lift the travel ban imposed on them at their release. Evangelical Protestant groups, including the SPECS and the SCOC, continued to oppose the government’s involvement in internal disputes about continued sale of church lands to investors, the detention of clergy and other religious leaders, and the inability of Christian groups to seek legal recourse. On August 23, the NISS arrested seven SCOC church leaders and interrogated them for six hours, reportedly for refusing to comply with an August 14 government order to hand over church leadership to a government committee. The leaders reportedly were released on bail after authorities told them to comply with the government order, which they rejected. On October 22, police briefly detained and later released five SCOC church leaders after they refused to cancel prayer services at the Harat Church in Omdurman. The government reportedly charged them with disturbing the peace. There were reports of authorities arresting, intimidating, and detaining Christian clergy and church members on religious grounds, denying permits for the construction of churches, closing or demolishing existing churches and church schools, censoring religious materials and leaders, and restricting non-Muslim religious groups and missionaries from operating in or entering the country.
On April 3, a member of the ECC stabbed and killed SPECS elder Yonan Abdullah during an altercation between ECC supporters and opponents within SPECS over control of the SPECS-operated Omdurman Evangelical Church School. According to SPECS members, the ECC supported government efforts to sell off church properties to private investors; the SPECS members accused the government of interfering in the internal affairs of the church. Yonan was among a group of SPECS members protesting against ECC efforts to take control of the school. Eyewitnesses reported that plainclothes police officers at the school did not intervene in the attack but arrested the alleged attacker whose trial was pending at year’s end. From February to April police arrested more than 60 SPECS members opposed to the ECC’s efforts to sell the school. The government denied the accusation that it was behind the April 3 attack and attributed the incident to “internal feuding between two Christian administrative boards.” At year’s end, the government had not implemented a 2015 court decision stipulating that only a SPECS-appointed entity could govern the property decisions of the SPECS Church in Khartoum, and not the government-recognized ECC, which continued to sell the church’s land to private investors throughout the year. As of year’s end, the government had implemented neither a February Constitutional Court ruling that the government-recognized ECC was illegal, nor the court’s order for the ECC’s dissolution.
On January 29, a Khartoum court convicted Czech Christian aid worker Petr Jasek, Sudanese Church of Christ pastor Hassan Abdelrahim, and Sudanese student Abdelmoneim Abdumaula, from Darfur, of eight crimes, including espionage and “warring against the state.” On January 29, a court sentenced Jasek to life imprisonment, and Abdelrahim and Abdumaula to 12 years’ imprisonment. The men had been in detention since their initial arrest in December 2015. They had reportedly donated money to fund medical treatments for Ali Omer, a Darfuri student injured during antigovernment demonstrations in 2013, and documented alleged abuses against Christians who said they were persecuted in the Nuba Mountains and Darfur. Authorities arrested Jasek at Khartoum Airport when he attempted to leave the country with photos and documentation of abuses against Sudanese Muslims who converted to Christianity. Authorities said Jasek had illegally entered Sudan via South Sudan and provided money to rebel movements, and that Jasek, Abdelrahim, and Abdumaula conducted interviews and took pictures without obtaining prior governmental permission.
Following pressure from the international community and the arrival in Khartoum of Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir pardoned Jasek, who returned to the Czech Republic on February 26 after 14 months in NISS custody. On May 11, President Bashir pardoned and released Abdelrahim and Abdumaula following sustained international advocacy on their behalf, but the government banned them from obtaining passports and leaving Sudan. Following further international pressure, the NISS and Ministry of Interior lifted the travel ban on the two men in October. While in detention the three men were transferred multiple times with no reason given to various NISS detention facilities and were finally held in Al Huda Prison during their trial. All three men reported prison officials physically abused them and kept them in poor conditions. Jasek additionally said he suffered from several medical problems caused by his poor treatment in prison.
On January 19, the MGE reportedly appointed Angel Alzaki to head a government-backed Executive Committee of the SCOC, effectively removing Yacoub Tilian from SCOC’s leadership position. On August 23, the NISS arrested seven SCOC church leaders and interrogated them for six hours, reportedly for refusing to comply with an August 14 government order to cede church leadership to a government committee. The leaders reportedly were released on bail after authorities told them to comply with the government order, which they rejected. SCOC Head of Missions Pastor Kowa Shamaal and SCOC Moderator Ayoub Mattan were among the seven church leaders arrested for challenging the order. Shamaal was previously arrested in December 2015 with Petr Jasek, Hassan Abdelrahim, and Abdelmoneim Abdumaula but was acquitted of all charges and released in January.
According to Morning Star News, on September 22, the NISS arrested SCOC Elder Mahjoub Abotrin at his home in Omdurman. They interrogated him and released him the same day without charges. According to SCOC sources, Abotrin was arrested for his refusal to turn over the leadership of the SCOC to government appointees. The mandate of the current leadership expires in March 2018. The SCOC constitution calls for a general assembly every three years to appoint church leaders. Some observers stated a factor in the government’s intervention was that most SCOC members are ethnically Nuba, from the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state, where the government was fighting a continuing insurgency. The observers said the government has accused ethnic Nuba of supporting the 2011 secession and continuing conflict in the areas adjacent to the border with South Sudan and has thus targeted them for their religious and ethnic affiliations. On October 22, police briefly detained and later released SCOC Moderator Reverend Ayoub Tiliyan, Reverend Ali Haakim Al Aam, Pastor Ambrator Hammad, evangelist Habil Ibrahim, and Elder Abdul Bagi Tutu for refusing to cancel prayer services at the Harat Church in Omdurman. The government reportedly charged them with disturbing the peace.
According to reports the Public Order Police frequently charged women with “indecent dress,” and there were numerous court convictions. Religious leaders and government officials confirmed that Muslim and Christian women were fined and lashed on a daily basis in Khartoum for wearing pants and other dress considered indecent by the Public Order Police.
International and domestic human rights observers continued to express concern that 2015 legal amendments widening the definition of apostasy targeted and discriminated against minority Muslim groups, especially Shia, whose practice of Islam differs from that of the Sunni majority. Many individuals from Muslim minorities, such as Shia or Quranist groups, reported that their places of worship have remained closed since 2014. They also stated that they needed to keep a low profile regarding their places of worship, as well as religious events and gatherings. Some Shia reported they remain prohibited from writing articles about their beliefs. In August government officials accused a Shia man of espousing “non-Sunni” religious beliefs. Reportedly, the man signed a written statement of repentance under pressure from the government. Persons continued to reference the case against 25 Muslims who faced the death penalty in 2015 on charges of apostasy for following the “wrong” version of Islam and who were acquitted in early 2016.
The Public Order Police arrested journalist Marwa Altijani on September 24, after she published two satirical articles on a popular website discussing religious concepts, including the divinity of God. She also reportedly wrote that it was not wrong to be a lesbian. Authorities charged her with apostasy under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code and released her two days later. They later dismissed the charges against her based on their assessment that she was psychologically unfit to stand trial.
In May the Omdurman sector prosecutor filed apostasy and public disturbance charges against Mohamed Salih Aldisogi after he attempted to change his religion on his state identification documents from Muslim to “nonreligious.” The prosecutor dropped all charges against Aldisogi after a state-appointed psychiatrist examined him without his consent and concluded he was not mentally competent to stand trial.
On October 1, police arrested Salafist preacher Muzamil Fageeri in front of his house in Khartoum State and charged him with apostasy after lawyers accused him of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, his companions, and wives while lecturing at the Musaab bin Omair dormitory in Khartoum. Police released Fageeri several days later. Independent observers stated they believed police arrested him because of a personal dispute between Fageeri and another imam.
On August 15, police evicted Reverend Yahia Nalu, pastor of the SPECS Omdurman church, and another minister who was living with Nalu and his family. from their home where Nalu and his family had lived for one year and a half. Police later arrested Nalu and held him for one day for “criminal trespass” after he refused to leave his home. The Administrative Court denied Nalu’s appeal of his eviction on August 20, and his legal counsel decided to take his case to the Supreme Court. Nalu’s trial began in November, but the judge repeatedly postponed hearings for administrative reasons.
There were reports government security services continued to monitor mosques closely for Friday sermon content. Observers stated authorities provided talking points and required imams to use them in their sermons.
Prisons provided prayer spaces for Muslims, but authorities did not allow Shia prayers independent of Sunni prayers. Shia prisoners were permitted to join prayer services led by Sunni imams. Some prisons, such as the Women’s Prison in Omdurman, had dedicated areas for Christian observance. Christian clergy held services in prisons, but access was irregular.
The government continued to state it did not have non-Muslim teachers available to teach Christian courses in public schools. Some public schools excused non-Muslims from Islamic education classes. Some private schools, including Christian schools, received government-provided Muslim teachers to teach Islamic subjects, but non-Muslim students were not required to attend those classes.
According to various church representatives, the government skewed its decisions on permit issuances for houses of worship towards mosques. Some churches reported they were less willing to apply for land permits or to construct churches given the government’s previous repeated denials. The government attributed its denial of permits to the churches not meeting government population density parameters and zoning plans.
Local parishioners reported that, compared to Islamic institutions, Christian places of worship were disproportionately affected by zoning changes, closures, and demolitions. The government said places of worship that were demolished or closed lacked proper land permits or institutional registration. The government stated mosques, churches, schools, hospitals, and residences were all affected equally by the urban planning projects. Sources estimated at least 24 churches, Christian schools, libraries, and cultural centers were “systematically closed,” demolished or confiscated by the government between 2011 and 2017.
In May government authorities demolished the SCOC in Khartoum (also known as Soba Al-Aradi church). In December 2016 the government issued a written notice to the Church, stating it had no legal right to the land on which the church was built in 1986. The Sudanese Council of Churches (SCC) and lawyers appealed on behalf of the church. While the church’s case was still pending in May, authorities appeared during a Sunday morning service to demolish the church. Parishioners and neighbors prevented the complete razing of the church by standing in front of the demolition vehicle until authorities left the site. Some of the church walls remained standing, but the church was rendered unusable. News of the demolition circulated widely on social media. As of year’s end, the church neither received compensation nor relocated elsewhere in Khartoum.
Two weeks after the demolition of Soba Al-Aradi church, authorities carried out the demolition of a large brick wall surrounding the Dihinat SCOC in the Kalakla sector of Khartoum State. A man dressed in a military uniform reportedly told church leaders that he had bought the land on which the church stood, as well as an adjacent plot. As of year’s end, the church building remained partially demolished.
During the July visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, government officials told Welby they had formally cancelled a July 2016 order from the Khartoum State Government to demolish 25 churches the government had repeatedly denied existed. The government did not demolish any of the 25 churches by year’s end.
In August the state government made a request to five pastors that they demolish their churches – two SCOC churches, two Episcopal churches, and one Baptist church – located in Jaboronna Camp outside of Khartoum. The reason provided was that the Khartoum State Ministry of Physical Planning had begun rezoning the surrounding area three weeks earlier than announced and had already demolished several nearby homes. The pastors demolished their church buildings accordingly on August 3, based on verbal guarantees from government officials that the churches would be compensated and granted land elsewhere in Khartoum. Church leaders confirmed that the government provided temporary places of worship to each of the five pastors until they were fully compensated for the demolished churches. These were the first such reports of government provision of temporary places of worship to Christians pending compensation. There were no reports of compensation to two demolished churches (one Catholic and one Presbyterian) in Soba County of Khartoum State in December 2016, which authorities stated were on publicly owned land.
Unknown intruders on broke into the home of a human rights lawyer who defended multiple pastors in religious freedom trials on August 19, while his family was out of town. The individuals broke the metal locks on his steel door, took all of his English-language files and academic papers, and two removable flash drives. They also took his family’s television, his two children’s guitars and laptops, and his wife’s jewelry. In October 2016 unknown assailants also broke into his home and smashed all of the windows and mirrors; no belongings were taken. The lawyer was forced to relocate his family as a result of the intrusions. Observers alleged that authorities may have been responsible for both incidents.
The Church of Jesus Christ in Aliza, Khartoum North, continued to seek restitution for the government’s demolition of its church building in 2014 due to what the MGE said was lack of proper land permits and registration. According to the SCC, the church had not received compensation, and authorities continued to prevent it from constructing a new building.
The government continued to state that church demolitions were purely a land administrative issue that impacted not only churches, but also mosques, hospitals, schools, and private homes, but did not provide examples of mosques being destroyed during the year. The NISS noted the locations of other churches and mosques it was tracking which were located on what the government referred to as “unplanned areas” in Khartoum State. Christian leaders and lawyers said that gaining outright land titles remained very difficult given that the government legally continued to own all land, and thus the legal status of churches remained unclear.
In July the Khartoum State Ministry of Education ordered Christian schools (except for Coptic schools) to operate on Sundays in order to adhere to the national general schedule of operations mandating that schools operate from Sunday to Thursday. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour publicly expressed concern that the order would damage the country’s international reputation. Members of the Khartoum State parliament also voiced opposition to parliamentary Deputy Speaker Mohamed Hashim, and told the Khartoum State minister of education the decision to cancel the Sunday holiday was not well studied. The order remained in place at year’s end; Coptic schools continued to be exempted. Local authorities reportedly threatened schools planning to oppose the order and resume Saturday instruction, although no schools reported they had been sanctioned for noncompliance. Schools temporarily increased instruction hours during the week in order to remain closed on Sundays and still meet the required hours of annual instruction. Schools and parents voiced concern that this was unsustainable for schools and students, and feared that schools would need to open on Sundays to alleviate the burden on teachers and families. Religious rights groups, including the SCC, stated the order could prevent Christian students from attending worship services and prevent parents from raising their children as Christians. In September approximately 60 parents of Christian and Muslim students who studied at Christian schools gathered outside of the Council of Ministers in Khartoum to protest the order requiring the schools to operate on Sundays.
The government continued to restrict some religiously-based political parties, including the Republican Brothers Party, which opposes the government’s use of sharia as a source of law. The Political Parties Affairs Council, which oversees the registration of political parties, refused to register the party, and the party’s leader filed a case in the Constitutional Court, which remained pending at year’s end.
Government officials continued to state Islamic principles should inform official policies and often pointed to sharia as the basis for the country’s legal framework. President Bashir and other senior figures frequently emphasized the Islamic majority of the country.
The government continued to restrict non-Muslim religious groups from operating or entering the country and continued to monitor activities and censor material published by religious institutions. The MGE said it granted a limited number of Christian missionary groups permission to engage in humanitarian activities and promote Muslim-Christian cooperation.
The government denied Christian churches or their humanitarian institutions tax-exempt status. Christian churches reported authorities required them to pay or negotiate taxes on items such as vehicles.
Leading officials from various churches reported the government refused to grant, or delayed renewing, work and residency visas to church employees of foreign origin, including missionaries and clergy, or to individuals it thought would proselytize in public places. This reportedly had a particularly negative impact on the Catholic Church whose clergy are mostly of foreign origin, while most clergy of other Christian denominations are ethnically Sudanese. The government only granted residence permits with less than a year’s validity. According to Catholic Church officials, the government continued to maintain restrictions on the entry of foreign clergy. In October the government issued 30 visas and residence permit renewals to Church personnel (clergy and nuns) after a six-month delay, representing only a portion of the international staff requested by the Church. Approximately 25 foreign missionaries left the country during the year due to protracted delays in obtaining visas and/or renewing residence permits. The government required clergy to pay a 70 Sudanese pounds (SDG) ($8) fine for every day they were not in residency status, approximately 12,600 SDG ($1,400) over six months.
The government closely scrutinized those suspected of proselytizing and used administrative rationales, or other aspects of the law such as immigration status, to either deport or exert financial pressure on such individuals. As a result, most non-Muslim groups refrained from public proselytizing.
Some religious groups reported the government barred the import of unapproved religious texts, and said most Christian denominations were unable to import teaching materials and religious texts as guaranteed by the constitution. According to a Morning Star News Service report in October, authorities in Port Sudan continued to detain a shipping container with Arabic language Bibles destined for Khartoum for two years without explanation.
A small number of Christian politicians, the majority of whom were members of the Coptic Church, continued to hold seats in the government.
Christian groups continued to call for a Christian director in the MGE Office of Church Affairs. The MGE-appointed director as of year’s end was a Muslim.