Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learned that the Sudanese Ministry of Justice withdrew the case against 25 Muslims, who were due to stand trial for apostasy on 9 February.
The group of 22 men and three minors was arrested by local police on 2 and 3 November 2015 in the Mayu neighbourhood of South Khartoum. They were formally charged with apostasy on 14 December 2015 and a trial date was set for 9 February 2016.
The three minors were released on bail on 30 November 2015, and the rest were released on 14 December 2015, after having been formally charged.
Their lawyers were informed on 9 February 2016 that the Ministry of Justice had withdrawn the case from the criminal court.
The group was charged with apostasy because although they had not converted from Islam, they followed an interpretation that differs from that of the ruling regime.
In a related development, on 29 February 2016 two of the 25 defendants, Abderahman Saied Enrahim and Emam Alyas Mohamed, were arrested whilst they were discussing the Qur’an. They were charged with public nuisance and released on bail on 29 February. Their trial began on 2 March and is ongoing.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, "Whilst we welcome the withdrawal of this case, we remain deeply concerned by the existing apostasy legislation. We continue to call on the Sudanese government to review it and to ensure that it complies with Sudan’s undertakings to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief, as articulated in the 2005 constitution and the international covenants to which it is party. We are also concerned by the public nuisance case against Abderahman Saied Enrahim and Emam Alyas Mohamed. We call for the charge against these men to be dropped without conditions, and for the government to protect their right to freedom of expression, which is essential in facilitating the right to freedom of religion or belief."