By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ZALINGEI, SUDAN (Worthy News) – Four members of the Sudanese Baptist Church in western Sudan’s Central Darfur state are in hiding amid concerns they may be executed after the men were released on bail, Worthy News learned Monday.
Bader el Dean Haroon Abdel Jabaar, his brother Mohammad Haroon Abdel Jabaar, Tariq Adam Abdalla, and Morthada Ismail, were detained last month on charges of “apostasy” or abandoning Islam.
The former Muslims were freed on bail on July 5, but Christians said they were now in hiding amid concerns about their future. “The prosecutor asked them to renounce their faith, but they refused,” advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) told Worthy News.
“They were released on bail pending trial – and were told they may face the death penalty,” added MEC, closely following the case.
Following their release, “the church and some of their relatives’ homes were attacked and looted,” MEC said. “Due to fears of the community and police harassment, they have chosen to remain in hiding until a court date is set.”
It was not immediately clear when and if the Christians would appear for the trial where there potentially face a death sentence.
MEC said it had urged believers to “pray for the prosecutor to drop the case” and for “healing, both physically and emotionally, to the detained men and those affected.”
It was also praying for “Christians in Darfur to be strengthened and encouraged despite harassment” and for the “harassment of Christians” to stop.
Christians say the situation of believers deteriorated since last year’s Islamic military coup overthrew the civilian-led transitional government, which had replaced ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
That changing political climate also impacted the four men in hiding, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
The four men had founded their congregation after receiving permission from the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments.
But after the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was ousted, they were recently targeted to face the same persecution that many other believers had encountered before, noted Christians.
Several people have been killed this year in protests calling for a return to complete civilian rule.
Civilian and military leaders had made an uneasy power-sharing deal last year after the army staged a coup and initially placed Prime Minister Hamdok under house arrest.
Sudan was just one month away from transition to a civilian head of state when the army seized power.
Hamdok’s decision to quit left the army in full control of the heavily Sunni Muslim nation of 48 million people.
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