A month after seven church leaders were arrested, interrogated and released on bail, police in Sudan detained and questioned another church leader in Omdurman on Friday (September 22), sources said.
According to Morning Star News, Elder Mahjoub Abotrin of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) was arrested from his home in Omdurman, across the Nile River from Khartoum, and was interrogated before he was released.
It was not clear if he was charged with any offense, but sources said that he was arrested because of his refusal to hand over SCOC leadership to government-appointed leadership.
The current leadership expires on March 2018. The SCOC constitution calls for a general assembly every three years to appoint church leaders.
Rev. Kwa Shamaal (also transliterated Kuwa Shamaal), SCOC head of missions, confirmed the arrest of Abotrin to Morning Star News.
“We cannot allow them [government-appointed committee members] to take over the church,” Shamaal said.
On August 23 seven church leaders were arrested, jailed for six hours and interrogated for refusing to comply with a government order to hand over church leadership to the government’s committee. The leaders were released on bail after authorities told them to comply with the government order, which they roundly rejected.
Shamaal and the Rev. Ayoub Mattan, SCOC moderator, were among the church leaders arrested. Pastor Shamaal was previously arrested on Dec. 18, 2015 and acquitted on Jan. 2 this year of charges ranging from spying to inciting hatred against the government.
Another SCOC pastor, the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, had received a 12-year sentence earlier this year after being charged with spying and trying to tarnish Sudan’s image, but he was freed along with Abdulmonem Abdumawla of Darfur on May 11 after receiving a presidential pardon.
Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.