Sudan (MNN) — Hundreds of protestors in six major cities across Sudan took to the streets this weekend, reports Middle East Monitor. More demonstrations are planned for today and Thursday.
People are tired of living in “starvation mode” and they’re calling for a change of leadership. What began mid-December in reaction to an outrageous price spike has become the rallying cry of an oppressed Sudanese society. Some analysts say these ongoing protests could be the biggest challenge President Omar al-Bashir has encountered in his nearly 30-year reign.
“Regimes like this are very good at self-preservation through oppression,” explains Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern. “That being said, it is possible we could see governmental change.”
What’s going on in Sudan?
As reported here, protests began December 19, 2018, following a significant price increase on essentials like bread and fuel. Demonstrations have increased in attendance and frequency since then. The government lists 24 fatalities so far, but organizations like Human Rights Watch put the number closer to 40.
“In some ways it’s not a surprise,” says Windsor of the protests. “Ever since South Sudan seceded in 2011, the economic situation has become increasingly difficult.”
On January 9, Al-Jazeera noted Sudan’s 70-percent inflation rate and lack of foreign assistance as contributing factors to the unrest.
“The government needs the assistance of the international community if they’re going to address the dire economic situation which has led to these protests,” Windsor explains.
“[Sudan’s government is] going to struggle to get the financial support they need from the international community if they’re [committing] human rights abuses, including against Christians.”
“Widespread human rights abuses by the government and armed groups are a daily occurrence in Sudan,” notes Amnesty International on its website. Open Doors USA ranks Sudan as one of the top ten worst places in the world to be a Christian.
Who is Omar al-Bashir?
In this 2016 profile, BBC News describes Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir as a man comfortable with conflict:
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s career has been defined by war. He came to power in a coup in 1989 and has ruled what was until 2011 Africa’s largest country with an iron fist.
“The aim of the protests are to oust the current president and make significant changes in the way Sudan is governed,” Windsor states. “But, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen.”
On Monday, Bashir firmly asserted that nationwide protests would do little to change Sudan’s leadership.
What does all of this mean for Christians?
In an unexpected way, these protests could actually help Sudanese Christians. When national security forces are distracted by protestors, “the focus is on other things rather than the harassment and persecution of Christians,” Windsor explains.
“So, that’s one way the protests might in some small way be a respite for Christians in Sudan.”
Watch this video and use the prompts listed in the sidebar to surround our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer.
“Christians in Sudan would greatly value prayer.”
Header image is a screenshot of Prayercast: Sudan.