Sudan concerns rise
BOTH THE present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and one of his predecessors, Lord Carey, have turned the spotlight on Sudan and its neighbour, South Sudan.
Archbishop Welby has recorded an interview for Episcopal News Service in which he described a visit to the town of Bor in South Sudan, a town where 6,000 people were killed, and called for ‘remorseless, unceasing prayer’ for an end to the conflict in that country.
The Archbishop visited South Sudan at the beginning of the year. The UN estimates fighting there has displaced 1.5 million people this year and that 5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.
In the interview the Archbishop said: “We must be battering the gates of heaven in prayer, remorseless, unceasing prayer.” He went on to call for an end to the supply of arms and instead the supply of vital humanitarian aid.
He paid tribute to the role the Church and Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul are playing in peace building. “The fact that the Archbishop is himself in charge of the reconciliation effort, and was summoned from a meeting in London urgently to take part in the first face-to-face meeting of the president and the rebel leader speaks volumes as to the centrality of the church,” the Archbishop said.
The president and opposition leader signed a peace agreement on 9 May. A previous ceasefire signed on 23 January subsequently broke down.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Lord Carey has made forceful comments about the death sentence imposed on a pregnant Christian woman in the Sudan for apostasy from Islam.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, the daughter of a Christian mother and Muslim father, is married to a Christian who is confined to a wheelchair and dependent on his wife’s help. She is in prison, sentenced to death but allowed a stay of execution for 18 months to enable her baby to be born and weaned. She has also been sentenced to 100 lashes.
Lord Carey described the sentence as a ‘tipping point’. “Isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with Islam at its core that it cannot allow people to change their religion?” he asked. “Moderate Muslims have to say enough is enough.”
He claimed Muslims in Britain who convert to Christianity often have to go underground while Muslims ‘get a really good deal’ here and are free to worship and to convert Christians to their faith.
He urged Muslim leaders to speak out in support of the freedom of Muslims to convert to Christianity.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols has made a plea for clemency for Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, stating that ‘the right to life and religious freedom are fundamental to the dignity bestowed on every one of us by Almighty God’.
Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK gave support to Lord Carey. “We can only hope that the Sudanese authorities come to their senses and recognise the disservice they are doing to the way Islam is viewed by the rest of the world and rescind this death sentence,” he said.
On Monday the Sudan ambassador was called in to the Foreign Office, where he heard protests about the sentence imposed on Meriam.