By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
KHARTOUM, SUDAN (ANS – July 21, 2015) — Two of 10 young Christian women charged with wearing indecent clothing in North Khartoum, Sudan were fined 500 Sudanese pounds (US$85) on Wednesday (July 15), a Christian leader said.
According to the Sudan Correspondent for Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org), Ferdoos Eltoum, 19, and 18-year-old Rehab Omer Kalkom were arrested on June 25 along with 10 other women; two of the 12 were released without charges the next day. The remaining eight young women, released on bail after spending a night in custody, remain charged.
The 12 women arrested, some of whom may have been minors, were forced to remove their clothing for Sudan’s notorious Public Order Police to “inspect” the clothes, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). The women were all wearing standard blouses with either skirts or pants, the source told Morning Star News.
“They have targeted these girls because of their faith and their race,” the Christian leader said.
The story goes on to say that Police in the Arab-majority country arrested the 12 black women as they were on their way home from a service at El Izba Baptist church in North Khartoum. They were taken to El Sababi Police Station, where they spent the night in police custody, the source said. Two of them were released at dawn, and the other 10 were later released on bail.
“At the police station the women were charged with indecent dress under Article 152 of Sudan Penal Code, a law that human rights groups have criticized as vague. Public Order Police can decide what is indecent or immoral in a wide range of shifting standards under the law,” Morning Star News continued.
“Article 152 calls for flogging with at least 40 lashes, a fine or both. It prohibits dressing or behaving inappropriately in public place. The young women could also face other, yet unknown charges.”
Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.
Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.
“Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2015 report,” Morning Star News concluded.
Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face most persecution, moving up from 11th place the previous year.
Photo captions: 1) Ferdoos Eltoum, 19. 2) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books.
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