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Imprisoned Sudanese Pastors Must Be Proven Innocent or They Will Face the Death Penalty

Between the the hearing last Thursday and the hearing this Thursday, there was some concern whether Mustafa would be able to make the hearing this Thursday after he was arrested on Wednesday, along with another pastor, at the Bahri Evangelical Church in Khartoum — the same church that pastor Michael was arrested at while visiting last December.

Mustafa and the church's pastor Hafez were arrested on charges that they were obstructing a public servant after being involved in a dispute with the government about the destruction of the Bahri church.

According to McDonnell, the government likely coerced many of the Bahri church members into selling the property to Islamic investors without the consent of the church leadership. Although the church leadership did not agree to selling the property, the government felt as though they had the legal grounds to begin bulldozing the church.

After arguing over the destruction of the church, pastor Hafez was handcuffed and paraded over 200 meters through the streets and markets. Both Hafez and Mustafa were released on bail and Mustafa was fortunate enough to make it to Thursday's hearing.

"People need to know that these kind of issues are taking place and ever since the split of the country, the Islamic Republic of Sudan government under [President Omar] al-Bashir promised that they were going to get rid of Christianity in Sudan, that there was no place for it, that it was going to be a sharia state," McDonnell said. "So, little by little, they have been doing these things and sometimes not even little by little, in big ways.

"The more they do and there is not any kind of backlash from the world community and from Christians around the world or from the U.S. government, then the more they think that they can get away with this," she added.
McDonnell said she thinks that Sudan continues to imprison Christians like pastors Michael and Reith and Meriam Ibrahim so that it get some kind of political gain, like having their sanctions lifted by the U.S., when they do what the world wants them to.

However, McDonnell maintains that Christians across the world need to keep the political pressure on Sudanese government officials to release the pastors. That is why IRD and Mute No More have teamed up to start the website SaveSudanPastors.com, where concerned individuals can sign onto a letter to President Bashir and other Sudan government officials as well as sign a petition.

"We need to make sure people know what is going on but more than that, people need to speak out," McDonnell said. "We are trying to create an outcry that is similar to what was done when Meriam was in prison. It is a little harder because they are men and they are not pretty young woman with a toddler and pregnant. We need to stress that these are dads and that they are pastors with wives and children and people back in South Sudan are concerned about them."

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