The Republic of Sudan has existed in its present form since July 2011, following the independence of South Sudan. Since then, the situation for religious minorities in Sudan has become critical. Over 97% of those living in Sudan are Muslim. Not only are Christians in Sudan obstructed from practising their faith, they are often actively persecuted for doing so. Both blasphemy and apostasy (leaving a religion: in this case, Islam) are illegal, with the latter carrying the ultimate penalty. Christians are prohibited from holding open air meetings, and violence against those identifying themselves as Christian is common.
The problems experienced by religious minorities predate South Sudan’s secession in 2011. Successive governments have been hostile to religious and ethnic minorities, particularly since the shari’a declaration of 1983. Decades of discrimination and violence played a decisive role in causing the South (which contains large Christian, animist and non-Arab communities) to separate from the predominantly Muslim and Arabised North. President al-Bashir repeatedly stated that following southern independence, Sudan would become an Islamic state with a new shari’a-based constitution, which is in the process of being drafted in an opaque and non-inclusive manner. Since the 2011 secession, religious minorities have experienced even greater hardship, hostility, and isolation, and diverse forms of governmental and societal repression.