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Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir has tossed two priests into prison for baptizing a woman convert to Christianity.
Agence France Presse reports from say Sudan the convert was a woman of Arab origin and that the government leaped into action when Muslims threatened violence.
“A little-known group calling itself al-Qaida in the Nilien States sent a statement to Sudanese journalists on Tuesday threatening violence against Copts unless the woman who converted and was kidnapped by the Christians is returned,” reports said.
Christian Solidarity International USA President John Eibner says that the decision to jail the priest may be the result of party rivalries.
“What we do know, however, is that the various Islamist forces, including Bashir’s party are competing with each other to show that they adhere to Shariah norms,” he said.
Eibner adds that in Sudan, Islam rules.
“It is still Islam that bestows political legitimacy in Khartoum,” Eibner said.
American Enterprise Institute Middle East analyst Michael Rubin says it’s no surprise that Sudan would imprison a pair of priests.
“It’s entirely plausible. It’s open season on Christians in the Middle East now,” he said.
Rubin adds that Sudan will rise to be one of the leading persecutors.
“No place will be as bad as Egypt, but Sudan will come close, especially as they tighten their embrace of Iran,” Rubin said.
WND previously reported that Sudanese dictator al-Bashir was launching airstrikes against Christian enclaves.
At the time, Eibner said, “Khartoum has habitually responded to rebellion, especially in peripheral black African and non-Muslim regions, with attacks intended to disrupt civilian communities to prevent them from hosting rebel armed forces.”
He said the tactic in the Nuba Mountains was consistent with how al-Bashir acted towards South Sudan and in Darfur.
“This was done in South Sudan during the late war there. It was done in response to the rebellion in Darfur, and is now being done in the Nuba Mountains in South Khordofan,” Eibner said.
International Christian Concern’s Africa analyst William Stark confirmed the attacks and airstrikes.
“There have been repeated airstrikes there since the separation of the north and south. Many of the people living in the Nuba Mountains are Christian, but there is also a rebel group active there, so there are many reasons the Nuba Mountains are being bombed,” Stark said.
Rubin added that overall, the Middle East is becoming the world’s most anti-Christian region.
“Israel aside, the Middle East has not been so hostile to Christians and Jews since the early days of the Romans,” Rubin said.
Sudan’s regime is also apparently cracking down on foreign reporters.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the regime has jailed two journalists from neighboring Eritrea.
“Sudanese authorities have detained without charge since Monday two Eritrean journalists, Abdalal Mahmoud Hiabu and Haroun Adam, from the Sudan-based Eritrean Centre for Media Services, according to local journalists, family, and news reports,” the CPJ report said.
“We are very concerned about the well-being of Abdalal Mahmoud Hiabu and Haroun Adam,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “We call on authorities to immediately disclose their whereabouts, legal status, and condition.”