Boutros Badawi, a senior adviser to Sudan’s Minister of Guidance and Religious Endowments, the department overseeing religious affairs in the country, was attacked by armed men in Khartoum on 2 July.
Mr Badawi was traveling to his home in Khartoum at approximately 11pm when a car with darkened windows blocked his vehicle. Five armed men emerged from the vehicle and pulled Mr Badawi from the car before proceeding to beat and threaten him.
One assailant pointed a gun at Mr Badawi’s head and threatened to kill him if he continued to say anything about confiscated properties belonging to churches, or the issues surrounding the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church committees.
After the attack, Mr Badawi sought medical treatment and was discharged pending further investigations. There has been no official statement from the Ministry of Guidance and Endowments on the attack, and Mr Badawi was not offered medical treatment commensurate with his official position in the government.
Mr Badawi has issued several posts on social media detailing the government’s delay in resolving historic injustices experienced by the Christian community, including the return of property, the issuing of registration certificates for church properties and the official recognition of legitimate church committees, which facilitates their management of church affairs.
During the al Bashir era, the State used its power to authorise committees that were not constituted according to church procedure to act on behalf of a religious organisation. In this way, the State retained significant control over the internal processes of religious organisations and used these committees to further restrict the rights of Christians.
Some leaders of such irregularly constituted committees responded to Mr Badawi’s work by falsely accusing him of bribery and bias in a letter sent to the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments. The letter also included a rejection of the 2015 Administrative Court decision which criticised the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments for recognising an illegitimate committee to administrate on behalf of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.
Local sources report that many church buildings that were confiscated by the previous administration or sold by illegitimate committees were under the control of former or current members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and its successor, the General Intelligence Service (GIS).
The threats made against Mr Badawi bear similarities to those made by GIS officers against Osama Saeed Musa Kodi, the president of a Christian youth organization, who was detained in Wad Madani in Gezira state earlier this year. Agents reportedly told Mr Musa Kodi that Christianity is evil and alleged he was trying to brainwash Sudanese citizens. He was also ordered to stop any efforts to rebuild a church that had been destroyed in an arson attack, and was told that he could be killed if he did not comply.
CSW’s Head of Advocacy Khataza Gondwe said: “We are deeply concerned by this appalling attack on a civil servant, simply for raising legitimate concerns about ongoing injustices and systematic discrimination experienced by the Christian community. Even more concerning is the lack of any official expression of concern at the targeting of one of the only Christians working in a senior position within the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, in a manner disturbingly reminiscent of the former regime. We urge the Sudanese authorities to ensure Mr Badawi is adequately protected and to afford him medical attention commensurate with his official position. This attack must be investigated, and its perpetrators prosecuted, without delay. Additionally, we call for the urgent overhaul of the system governing the authorisation of administrative committees during the al Bashir era, the immediate recognition of legitimate church committees, and the return of properties taken from Christian communities to their rightful owners.”