The government of Sudan estimates the country is 97 percent Sunni Muslim. Sudan is also home to Christians, including members of long-established Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox groups, refugee and migrant Christian communities, and other smaller groups. Less than one percent of the population are thought to follow traditional African beliefs.
The country’s national legislation is based on Islamic sharia law. Apostasy from Islam – which under the government’s definition includes questioning the Quran – is punishable by death. Acts that encourage conversion from Islam are also illegal, as is blasphemy. In recent years reports have emerged of the government detaining church members and closing or demolishing church buildings, as well as refusing permission for new ones.
Sudan was long divided between the Muslim and Arab-dominated North and the traditional, “African” South. After gaining independence from the British in 1956, the country was devastated by 17 years of civil war, and a second civil conflict followed ten years later. Decades of violence and the resulting famine displaced four million people and, according to rebel estimates, caused more than two million deaths. In 2005, the war was ended by a peace agreement that granted the South six years of autonomy and a referendum on independence. South Sudan became an independent country in 2011.
Sudan has also experienced numerous regional disputes, including ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Darfur, and the Blue Nile states.
Sudan has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the world. It is thought that 87% of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 in the country have been cut. The practice is usually carried out on girls younger than five and can cause severe pain, psychological distress, chronic medical complications, and even death.
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- Pray for Christian converts from Islam, for whom the cost of discipleship may be very high.
- Pray for peace in areas still wracked by conflict. Give thanks that elsewhere, societal relations across different religions are generally good, and pray that this will continue.
- Pray that the efforts of anti-FGM activists will be successful and for healing and peace for girls and women suffering after being cut.