Sudan estimates that the country is 97 percent Sunni Muslim. The country 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.
For three decades Sudan’s national legislation was based on Islamic sharia law. The transitional government that came to power in 2019 reversed this in 2020 when it announced a separation of state and religion, scrapped the law for apostasy from Islam – previously punishable by death – and ended flogging for blasphemy. It declared its support for religious freedom and announced its willingness to return church properties confiscated by the previous government. However, the future of these reforms is now uncertain following a military coup in October 2021 that has put the transition process on hold.
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.
Civilian protests in 2019 saw the removal of former military officer Omar al-Bashir after 30 years as president. Sudan’s military eventually agreed to form a joint civilian-military council to head a three-year transition under a civilian prime minister. This made promising strides in improving religious freedom and women’s rights, in making peace agreements with a number of rebel movements, and in securing removal from the US list of state sponsors of terror. However, an October 2021 by the army in October 2021 now seems to threaten the country’s planned three-year transition to democracy.
Sudan is known to have one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the world. Some 87% of women and girls aged between 14 and 49 in the country have undergone the procedure according to the UN. Legislation outlawing the practice and making it punishable by three years in jail was passed in 2020.
Arabic, English, Nubian, Ta Bedawie, Fur
- Pray for progress towards a just and fair political system that allows freedom and dignity for all Sudan’s people.
- Pray for Christian converts from Islam, for whom the cost of discipleship may be very high.
- Pray for peace and stability in areas that have been wracked by conflict. Give thanks that elsewhere, societal relations across different religions are generally good, and pray that this will continue.
- Pray for the growth of Sudan’s economy and for better opportunities for the 47 per cent who live below the poverty line.
46,751,152 (July 2021 est.)