Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sudanese Bible School Re-Opens Despite Islamist Intimidation

Burned and ransacked in April, Christian compound faces further threats

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN (ANS) -- Amid threats of further losses, classes resumed this month at a Khartoum Bible school and church compound that Muslim extremists torched in April, an area Christian source said.
According to a story by Morning Star News, students and administrators at Gerif West Bible School in Sudan have yet to fully recover their losses from the April 21 attack.
However, the source said classes resumed on Oct. 15 even as area Muslims try to take school land and anti-Christian messages broadcast from a nearby mosque loudspeaker on most Fridays.
Muslim leaders have been saying through the mosque loudspeaker that Christian institutions should not be allowed in Sudan, as the country should be a "purely Islamic state" since the secession of South Sudan on July 9 2011, he said.
"We are expecting the level of persecution to rise in Sudan in the coming days," a pastor who works at the Bible school told Morning Star News by phone, adding that hostilities against churches and Christians were intensifying.
Morning Star News said Islamist attackers shouting threats against Christians and "Allahu Akbar" (God is greater) on April 21 broke down the Christian compound wall with a bulldozer and set fire to the school and a Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) building. Also damaged were a clinic, a home for the elderly and living quarters.
According to Morning Star News, the hard-line Muslim sheikh who led the attack, Muhammad Abdelkrim, on Sept. 21 urged Muslims to tolerate no Christian presence and to have no dealings with them because they were "infidels," the source said.
"We will never forgive Christians" for not being Muslims, Morning Star News reported the imam said during a mosque service on Sept. 21 through loudspeakers, besides saying that Christian institutions have no place in Sudan.
Morning Star News said the attackers ruined four halls used by three churches and burned the belongings of students at a dormitory. School library books, including 50 boxes of Bibles, were also destroyed. The attackers destroyed school furniture, as well as breaking into a safe and stealing college funds.

Police stood by watching the destruction, according to a statement from SPEC.

Land Grabs
Morning Star News reported the attacks followed an effort by area Muslims to take control of at least part of the land, and another attempt has since emerged.

The first attempt to seize the land came after the attacking Islamists obtained approval from the Commissioner of Khartoum to take part of the property in April, with the intent of taking all of the property. According to SPEC, the mob showed up with a bulldozer on April 9 and threatened to demolish the Bible school.

"The church was not informed (of the commissioner's decision)," said a SPEC statement at the time. "It is not the mandate of the Commissioner of Khartoum to allocate a private property to others."

Morning Star News said SPEC leaders held the documents showing proof of the church's ownership of the land, and police were able to persuade the mob to withdraw.
However, with the support of "Public Committees," (Islamist bodies supported by the government that monitor Christian activities in Sudan), Islamic extremists continue to lay claim to the land as a justification for their threats to take it by force.

Morning Star News said the Commissioner of Khartoum based his approval of the takeover on the mistaken assumption that the land belongs to South Sudanese Christians, and that it must therefore be confiscated since they were no longer citizens of Sudan following secession, according to SPEC.

In June, Morning Star News said, a new threat developed. Police on June 25 summoned three Bible school staff members to answer claims by the sons of a former Arabic teacher at the school that they were the legal heirs of a part of the property. That being since their father, Jabrah Hanaha, had lived on it before his death three years ago.
According to Morning Star News, police dropped the case after the school's lawyer presented the documents showing SPEC was the legal owner of the land. However, Adil and Ezat Hanaha have continued to claim the property with hopes that authorities sympathetic to Muslims will aid them.

Morning Star News said Sudanese law and policy favors Muslims. Sudan's Interim National Constitution holds up sharia (Islamic law) as a source of legislation, according to the U.S. Department of State. President Omar al-Bashir has vowed that Sudan will become a more strictly Islamic state.

For more information about Morning Star News, go to the website of International Christian Response (ICR), 
Later this year look for Morning Star News at

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