A Sudanese church leader has been imprisoned for a month after extremists attacked him during a church service.
Pastor Stefanous Adil Kajo was convicted of ‘disturbing the peace’ on 10th April in the Al Haj Abdalla Locality of Gezira State.
His assailant Ibrahim Kodi (known locally as ‘Banaga’), was also found guilty of the same charge and sentenced to a month’s imprisonment.
Pastor Kajo’s church has faced harassment from local extremists in recent years, and in February efforts were made to prevent them from accessing their building.
Despite this, and an order to ban all use of the building, the leaders of the local neighbourhood committee had allowed the church to continuing meeting for worship there.
On 3rd April 3 extremists prevented members of the church from meeting in the building but allowed them to pray in the yard outside.
A week later Mr Kodi interrupted a church service, struck Pastor Kajo, who was escorted from the building, and attacked other members of the church.
One woman suffered cuts to the mouth, and another received injuries to her hand.
Two more individuals joined Mr Kodi in tearing Bibles and breaking chairs.
Founder of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas said: “The charging and conviction of Pastor Kajo, who was the victim of an extremist attack in his place of worship, is a deplorable injustice.
“We call for an urgent review of this decision, and for his conviction and sentence to be quashed, particularly in light of the overwhelming evidence presented during his trial that attests to his innocence.
“Furthermore, the perpetrator reportedly confessed with pride that he had forced his way into the church and attacked the pastor during a service.
“The judge’s justification for this sentence lacks validity, given that it penalises the innocent victim of a crime.
“His decision only serves to further damage social cohesion and relationships between communities in the area.
“It panders to extremist sentiments that have emerged in recent months, further erodes the rule of law, and diminishes the trust of religious and belief minorities in governance and justice mechanisms.”