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(Tom Price/Tearfund)
World News

Sudan to return confiscated property to Christians

Nasreddine Mufreh has reiterated Christians will have their stolen possessions reinstated through court proceedings, acknowledging the suffering and "very bad practices" they have endured under the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir.

In an interview with international Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday, Mufreh said Christians should not be described as a minority group and affirmed their role within Sudanese society and their right to freely practise their faith.

"They are Sudanese and their religion is heavenly with its values and beliefs," he added.

Mufreh also told media in September that confiscated church properties should be returned.

In the past few years, there have been increasing reports by Christian leaders of forced closure and demolition of churches, the confiscation of Christian books and violent attacks towards Christians after Bahir vowed to adopt a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) - which only recognises Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Following the imprisonment of Bashir and widespread demonstrations a transitional government of civilians and military figures has been put in place, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years.

In September pastor Mobarak Hamaad, former head of the Sudanese Church Council, demanded the transitional government return all church buildings, lands and properties wrongfully confiscated.

Mufreh has said his ministry plans to work on combating extremist ideals, fighting terrorism and reforming school curriculums.

"The Sudanese Islamic Movement project has been defeated in political and community life thanks to the glorious revolution", he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

"We will besiege these mosques with a serious discourse calling for moderation and the fight against extremism," he added.

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