The United States government and Christian advocacy groups have welcomed the release of two Sudanese Presbyterian ministers, sentenced to death for insulting Islam. Last week the Sudanese government released from prison the Rev. Yat Michael Ruot and Rev. Peter Yein Reith. In December 2014 Mr; Rout was arrested by police, and Mr. Reith arrested the following month, after they filed a civil lawsuit seeking to block the confiscation and sale of their church to a Muslim businessman. The National Intelligence Security Services recorded Mr. Ruot telling his congregation in a sermon to stand firm in the face of religious persecution. The government retaliated by demolishing the church and arresting the ministers of Khartoum congregation and charging them with undermining the constitutional system; waging war against the state; disclosure and receipt of official information or documents; arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces; breach of public peace; and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs. Two of the charges carry the death penalty or life imprisonment. Violations of Article 50 or 51 carry the death penalty or life imprisonment. Both pastors were detained in the high-security Kober Prison and were denied visits by their attorneys and wives. Their arrest prompted protests from Christian rights groups and Western governments. Last week the Sudanese government agreed to release the men and dismiss the outstanding charges. “We are very pleased that the two pastors are now out of detention, but they should not have been charged and detained at all, let alone convicted,” said Dr. Robert P. George, chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. “This case is a textbook example of the persecution of Christians in Sudan,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Juicy Ecumenism