CSW - everyone free to believe


More places of worship attacked amid continuing violence

16 May 2023

Six gunmen attacked the Al-Masalma Coptic Church in Omdurman, Sudan on 13 May.

CSW sources report that the gunmen came to the church in a car and shot four men, including a priest named Arsenius, and his son. They also stabbed the church guard before looting the building for two hours.

All five victims received treatment at a private hospital and have since recovered; however, they were unable to access the largest hospital in the area as it is currently under the control the Rapid Support Forces (RSF, formerly the Janjaweed militia), and its electricity has been cut off by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), with whom the RSF has been in conflict since 15 April 2023.

Elsewhere, the RSF forcibly evacuated all priests, including His Grace Bishop Elia, the Bishop of Khartoum and South Sudan, from Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church on Nile Street in Khartoum on 14 May in order to use the premises as a military base. The RSF had reportedly been intimidating and harassing those in the church for a week before they forced them to leave.

A similar incident was reported on 3 May when the Coptic Church in Khartoum North (Bahri) was attacked.

Mosques have also been attacked as violence continues across the country. On 14 May the Al Zareeba mosque was bombed in El Geneina, West Darfur, where fighting is particularly intense. According to the Preliminary Committee of Sudan Doctor’s Trade Union, 280 people were killed and more than 160 were injured in the region between 12-13 May.

There have also been reports of the bombings of mosques in the Alazhari and Burri Al Daraisa areas of Khartoum; one person was killed in the latter.

At a special session convened on 11 May the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the designated Expert of the High Commissioner on human rights in Sudan to include detailed monitoring and documentation of, and reporting to the Human Rights Council on, all alleged human rights violations and abuses since the 25 October 2021 military coup, including those occurring during the current crisis.

Also on 11 May, representatives of the SAF and RSF signed a Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, ‘to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, the restoration of essential services, the withdrawal of forces from hospitals and clinics, and the respectful burial of the dead.’ 

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW condemns these recent attacks on places of worship across Sudan. The intentional attacks on clergy, the bombing of houses of worship and seizures of religious buildings for use as military bases violate international human rights and humanitarian law, and are among a litany of violations which may amount to war crimes. We urge the designated Expert to take note of these events. While the signing of the Jeddah commitment to protect civilians is a commendable initial step, if adhered to, CSW continues to call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire. We also reiterate our call to the international community to commit to long-term support for the promotion, protection, and fulfilment of human rights, and to facilitate broad and significant civil society participation in negotiations on a peaceful democratic transition. This is the only way to secure an effective political solution based on an inclusive Sudanese identity, rule of law, human rights and accountability.’



Sign up for updates on the work of CSW

* mandatory fields

By signing up you will receive news about CSW's work and how you can support it. You can unsubscribe at any time.

#2 CSW manifesto

We believe no one should suffer discrimination, harassment or persecution because of their beliefs