By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
KHARTOUM, SUDAN (BosNewsLife)– Rights activists say Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir is rewriting his country’s constitution to implement Sharia, or Islamic, law, a move that is expected to put more pressure on the African nation’s Christian minority.
“This new law is going to affect a significant number of Christians who live in places like [the capital] Khartoum,” said Jonathan Racho, Northern Africa specialist of advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
“There are still a significant number of Christians in Sudan…If Bashir introduces this sharia law and if he’s going to go ahead and adopt an entirely Islamic constitution, Christians and other non-Muslims who live in Sudan will be treated like second-class citizens,” Racho added.
He said his group fears Christians “will not have full rights in the freedom of religion.”
President Bashir’s move towards sharia shows that the government of Sudan “hasn’t learned anything” from its recent loss of the South, which has become an independent nation, Racho added.
“The government of Sudan should realize that the reason the South seceded was because of the sharia law, and now they’re repeating the same mistake.”
Sudan’s president “Bashir has always embraced Sharia as good government,” said Tom Zurowski, the founder and president of Christian adv advocacy group Global Response Network.
“Sharia has been the very ethos of Bashir and the North for a long, long time. People on the ground in the South have known this right along (that) the Islamization of Sudan has been the goal of Bashir’s government for years.”
Zurowski said al-Bashir is now facing the realities of having a new Christian neighbor while having to deal with its other African Islamic countries.
“If Bashir wants the backing of neighboring Arab nations, he must fully embrace Sharia, or be seen as a weak leader among other Arab countries,” he explained. “His ego and arrogance will not allow for that.”
Sudanese officials did not respond to the allegations.
Concerns over the Christians come also at a time when South Sudan’s independence took a major portion of Sudan’s oil revenues with Bashir now facing economic difficulties, analysts say.
The Sudan Tribune news paper said Bashir told government officials that spending cuts are now a priority to overcome financial troubles. Racho stressed the international community should put even more economic pressure on Sudan to ensure protection for its Christians.
“We (ICC) want the international community to put pressure on Sudan,” he said. “One of the important things about Sudan is its reliance on the international community. We also want the American Christian community to know that the secession of the South doesn’t end the plight of Christians, so they should continue to advocate on behalf of the Christians in Sudan.”