Date: July 25, 2020
Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. (Psalm 118:15-17)
Shouts of joy are heard as we celebrate the news that on 10 July, Sudan abolished the death penalty for apostasy.
The legislation has historically been used to target religious minorities like Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who in 2014 was sentenced to death for apostasy (leaving a religion; in this case, Islam). Hundreds of you joined our campaign for Meriam, and after intensive advocacy, campaigning and prayer, Meriam was set free from death row.
Now no one will ever again have to endure that ordeal.
Other amendments to the criminal code include the ending of public flogging, the banning of female genital mutilation (FGM), new laws allowing non-Muslims to drink, import, and sell alcohol, and giving women the right to travel abroad without proof of permission from their husbands.
From December 2018 and during the first half of 2019, Sudan witnessed nationwide demonstrations in which citizens from diverse backgrounds and of all creeds and ethnicities came together to call for systematic reforms and an end to the decades of human rights violations. The protests eventually resulted in the deposition of former president Omar al Bashir and subsequent transfer of presidential power to the Sovereignty Council of Sudan.
We’re delighted that the Sovereignty Council has enacted several much-needed reforms, but there’s still a long way to go as Sudan emerges slowly from a lengthy, brutal dictatorship. There are also many potential spoilers, including COVID-19 related difficulties, a struggling economy, religious extremists empowered by the former government, and the presence of remnants of the former regime in critical structures of governance, some of whom continue to wield substantial power.
In summary, please pray:
- Thank God, from whom all blessings flow, for the abolition of the death penalty for apostasy, and other important reforms.
- Ask God to move the hearts of those in the international community who are helping to shore up and improve Sudan’s economy, to also prioritise financial assistance for the reform process.
- Pray that the reforms will continue despite any opposition, and that justice will be served for the victims of the many decades of human rights violations.