A Sudanese couple and their children are now safely in the United States after being tried in Sudan following their conversion to Christianity. Nada and her husband Hamouda faced punishments of 100 lashes each, plus a year of exile. Family members had also threatened to carry out ‘honour killings’ to punish them.
Although apostasy was decriminalized in Sudan in 2020, Christian converts continue to face persecution and criminal charges for their conversions. In the case of Nada and Hamouda, prosecutors brought charges of “criminal adultery” against the couple after the court deeming that their marriage had been rendered unlawful, by Hamouda’s conversion.
Lawyers affiliated to ADF International represented Nada and Hamouda in court for months, but when it became clear during the trial that the penalties and threats facing the couple were imminent and life-threatening, they were brought to the United States.
Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International said: “While both international and Sudanese law protect Nada and Hamouda’s right to freely choose and live out their faith, it’s clear that Christian converts in Sudan continue to face severe threats and hostility from the government and community. ADF International is committed to providing the strongest legal defence for the persecuted Church, and we will continue to seek justice for those like Nada and Hamouda who are unjustly punished for their faith.”
Nada and Hamouda were both Muslim when they married in 2016. When Hamouda converted to Christianity two years later, Nada’s family exerted threats against her and persuaded her and her children to abandon Hamouda and return to live with her family. At the time, Sudan’s penal code included apostasy as a crime worthy of the death penalty. Shortly after it was decriminalized in 2020, Nada also converted and returned home to Hamouda with their children.
However a Sharia court had dissolved the marriage, deeming it unlawful for a Muslim woman to be married to a Christian man. When the family was reunited, the couple were prosecuted for adultery.
Only 4.4 per cent of Sudan’s population of 44.6 million are believed to be Christian. According to the anti-persecution organisation Open Doors, Christian women and girls in Sudan, particularly converts, are vulnerable to attacks and persecution because of their faith. Converts are also denied inheritance, and if they are already married, they can be forcibly divorced from their husbands.
Zorzi added: “We are overjoyed that Nada, Hamouda, and their children are now able to practise their faith without fear for their lives. After facing imminent risk of death in Sudan, they are now looking forward to celebrating Christmas in their new home, alongside their new community and church family.”