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THE CROSS OF MIDDLE EASTERN CHRISTIANS

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					                    St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)




                            THE CROSS
                                OF
                    MIDDLE EASTERN CHRISTIANS

                       The human rights situation
                              of Christians
                        in Syria, Libya and Sudan

        This Master Thesis has been written in 1996 by the director of Middle
       East Concern (MEC). In order to be updated on the situation of Human
       Rights and Christians in the Arab World, you may want to contact MEC:
                          Daniel.Hoffman@MEConcern.org




Daniel Hoffman
Master Thesis

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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Department of Languages and Cultures of the Middle East
Catholic University of Nijmegen
November 1996




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                    St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

                                   Contents



Preface   1

Introduction    2


Chapter 1 Backgrounds        9
  §1.1 Sharica   8
 §1.2 History of Christians in the Middle East                  15
 §1.3 Communal identity   28


Chapter 2 Syria   36
  §2.1 General background          36
 §2.2 Questionnaire on the freedom of religion                  46
 §2.3 Analysis   60


Chapter 3 Libya      64
 §3.1 General background   64
 §3.2 Questionnaire on the freedom of religion                  72
 §3.3 Analysis   85

Chapter 4 Sudan   87
  §4.1 General background          87
 §4.2 Questionnaire on the freedom of religion                  98
 §4.3 Analysis   124


Conclusions    126



Appendix A    Questionnaire on the freedom of religion               130


Appendix B    Christians in the Middle East              133


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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)


Appendix C   Interviews      142


Bibliography    146




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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

                                 Preface


     This thesis is the result of a research project I
conducted for my graduation in Middle Eastern Studies from the
University of Nijmegen. During this research I studied various
forms of written material in the Netherlands (library of the
University of Nijmegen and documentation of Open Doors and the
dutch and german offices of Aide à l'Eglise en Détresse), in
Egypt (documentation of the Sudanese Human Rights Organisation,
of the Nuba Mountains Organisation aBroad (NOB) and of a
private Sudanese), in Syria (the library of the French Institu-
te in Damascus and documentation of a private person) and in
Cyprus (documentation centre of the Middle East Council of
Churches). In addition to these written sources I had a large
number of interviews in the Netherlands, Egypt, Malta, Cyprus,
Switzerland, Syria, Libya and Sudan (see Appendix C).
     It is my pleasant duty to record my thanks and apprecia-
tion to the many people who have helped give to this thesis its
current shape: I would like to express my gratitude to all the
people listed in appendix C who were willing to share    their
knowledge and experience on the subject of this thesis with me
(in some of the countries mentioned above talking about human
rights issues is regarded as subversive by the authorities and
can therefore be dangerous). I also like to express my
gratitude to the dutch office of Aide à l'Église en Détresse:
for their willingness to help me and the materials they
supplied.
     I would like to thank Open Doors for their important
contribution: many names and addresses of people in the coun-
tries I visited and access to their documentation.
     I would also like to express my gratitude to Edwin van
Pruyssen who was my English corrector.
     I am much indebted to Dr. D. Douwes and Dr. H. Teule, my



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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

supervisors.   Through    their    critical      comments     they   made   an
important contribution to the final outcome.




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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

                              Introduction


     During the last fifty years1 human rights have been a much
debated issue. Human rights have been put down in     different
United Nations declarations and covenants. The most important
are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in
1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (both adopted in 1966). Most of the debate has
been on the question whether these rights are universal or not.
     In the Islamic world this debate has been very extensive.
Usually the argument was about the relation between the Islamic
law (sharica) and the human rights set down in the declarations
and covenants of the United Nations.2 The critique of many
Muslims regarding the existing human rights documents are
twofold:3
     1. The concept of human rights is not a Western concept;
          human rights were already set down in the sharica (so
          they are from Islamic origin).
     2. The existing human rights documents are not universal

     1
       This does not mean that there was no debate about human
rights issues before. Usually the so-called codex Hammurabi
(±1752 B.C.) is seen as the first document which says something
about the protection of the weak (Van der Heijden 1991, p.7-
23). The Mosaic laws (first half of the 13th century B.C.) are
seen as "the first attempt to the recognition of what later
would be called fundamental human rights" ("eerste aanzet tot
de erkenning van wat men later 'fundamentele mensenrechten' zou
gaan noemen", op. cit. p.7).
     2
       Much literature has been published on this subject. For
good overviews see: Van der Heijden (1991), p.24-47; Mayer
(1991). For a more recent debate see Mitri (1995). See also
chapter 1.
     3
       Van der Heijden (1991), p.28. The first point is actually
no critique but a mere statement. The second point is the
actual critique.


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

            but defined in Western terms.
     Therefore the present human rights documents should be
redefined in order to become truly universal. Like an Iranian
delegate to the United Nations stated: "The Declaration and the
Conventions are largely the product of Western liberalism; at
the time of their adoption, the Western colonialist and
imperialistic regimes represented the majority of the interna-
tional community. Nowadays however, this majority is formed by
the newly independent states of Asia and Africa which posses a
rich philosophical, ideological and cultural heritage. Conse-
quently, the Declaration should be changed. The secular and
Western document has to be replaced by an instrument which is
better universally accepted and therefore easier universally
applicable."4
     The largest discrepancies are in three areas:5 equality
(e.g. between men and women), integrity of the human body
(especially some of the corporal punishments set down in the
sharica) and religious freedom. According to the World Watch
List-Freedom of Religion6 the top five countries with the least
     4
       "La Déclaration et les Pactes sont en grande partie le
produit du libéralisme occidental; au moment de leur adoption,
les régimes colonialistes et impérialistes occidentaux repré-
sentaient la majorité de la communauté internationale. Mais
aujourd'hui, cette majorité est formée par les États nouvelle-
ment indépendants d'Asie et d'Afrique qui possèdent un riche
héritage philosophique, idéologique et culturel. Par consé-
quent, la Déclaration doit être modifiée, le document laïque et
occidental devant faire place à un instrument qui soit mieux
accepté universellement et donc plus facillement applicable
universellement." (Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.18). See also
Michel (1995), p.132 where a Libyan delegate expresses the same
view.
     5
         Van der Heijden (1991), p.32-34
     6
       Made by Open Doors: an organisation aiming at helping
Christians in countries where they are persecuted. This list
only looks at restrictions on the freedom of Christians. I used
the version: corrected + updated 27 February, 1996.


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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

religious freedom for Christians are all Islamic. Of the top
twenty 80% of the countries are Islamic.
     In the Islamic world there are different opinions about
the relations between the sharica and the human rights docu-
ments. These opinions can be divided in a so-called traditional
viewpoint and a modern viewpoint.7 In the traditional point of
view the whole sharica is considered as unchangeable: the
sharica provisions made in the past are all sacred and therefore
still have to be followed. In the modern point of view the
sharica is considered to be evolutionary: there are some general
principles behind the sharica (the maqasid ash-sharica) which
are unchangeable while the practical definition of these
principles should be adjusted to circumstances, situation and
context and is therefore changeable.
     The adherents of the traditional view reject the univer-
sality of the United Nations' human rights documents. The
adherents of the modern view usually try to adapt several
sharica provisions to the United Nations' human rights docu-
ments.


     This thesis deals with the human rights situation of a
religious group - namely Christians - in three Islamic coun-
tries: Syria, Libya and Sudan. The starting point of this
thesis is that Christians in all of these three countries are
persecuted (as defined below) because of three reasons.
     First, like the other regimes in the Middle East and North
Africa, the regimes in all three countries are notorious for
their human rights violations. Second, in all of these
countries the sharica is at least partly applied. Third, the
ranking of these countries on the World Watch List-Freedom of

     7
       For the terms see Saif (1995b), p.126, for the elabo-
ration see Saif (1995a), p.11-16 and Monshipouri (1994), p.
219.


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                         St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Religion.8 Southern Sudan occupies the third place with a score
of 76.5 points,9 Northern Sudan occupies the sixth place with
69.5 points, Libya the fifteenth place with 60.0 point and
Syria the fourtysixth place with 30.5 points. Countries that
score more than 10 points do not have complete religious
freedom.
     For each of these countries the following questions will
be dealt with: Who is persecuting who, in what way, and why ?
These questions will need some explanation.
     Who is persecuting: deals with the actor(s) of the perse-
cution. Is it the government, groups within society or both ?
And if the government does not persecute, does it tolerate
persecution by other groups within society then?
      Persecuting: in this thesis I will use this word in a
very       broad    sense.     My    definition      of    persecution      is:   any
infringement upon a right granted to adherents of a religion by
the human rights declarations and covenants of the United Nati-
ons.10
      Who is persecuting who: deals with the victims of the
persecution. Are all Christians persecuted, or just Christians
from specific denominations or ethnic, social or economic
groups within society?
     In what way: deals with the acts of persecution. To be
able to answer this question the questionnaire in Appendix A
was used.
     Why: deals with the motivation for the persecution. Are
Christians         persecuted       just   for    religious      reasons,    or   for

       8
            See note 6
       9
       The highest place means the worst situation for Chris-
tians. The highest and worst score is 100 points.
       10
        For these rights and the human rights declarations and
covenants see Appendix A.


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

ethnic, socio-economic, historical etc. reasons ? This last
question leads to the notion that this thesis is not limited to
religious persecution - i.e. persecution for religious reasons
- but with persecution of a particular religious minority
(Christians) for whatever reason.


     In this thesis I will restrict myself to two areas. First,
I will only look at the situation of Christians. Second I will
only look at the situation of Christians in Sudan, Libya and
Syria.
     The first restriction is derived from the large scale on
which Christians are persecuted.11 This does not mean that
Christianity is the only religion whose adherents are
persecuted. Adherents of other religions or Islamic sects are
persecuted in Islamic countries too - e.g. Jews and Animists or
the Bahai, the Ahmaddiya in Pakistan, the Shi'ites in Iraq or
Saudi Arabia and Islamic activists12 in most Arab countries.
Furthermore Muslims are known to be persecuted in Non-Muslim
countries, e.g. massive rape of Muslim women by Serbs during
the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the demolition of the mosque in
Ayodya in India or the prohibition for Muslim girls to wear the
hijab (scarf) on school in France.
     I have chosen to limit myself to Christians in Islamic
countries because I believe their situation is by and large

     11
          The director of the Religious Liberty Commission of the
World     Evangelical Fellowship stated recently that "more
Christians have been martyred in the 20th century than in the
previous 19 combined." (Guthrie (1996), p.1). See also
Schlossberg (1991), p.19-21.
     12
        Since their religious ideas coincide with their politi-
cal ideas one might argue whether they are victims of religious
persecution or political persecution. They consider themselves
to be victims of religious persecution.


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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

neglected in the West. In the West there have been extensive
reports on   e.g. the above-mentioned persecutions of Muslims in
Non-Muslim   countries. Furthermore there is much attention for
violations   of human rights of women and ethnic minorities in
the Middle   East. Regarding the situation of Christians in the
Middle East there is remarkably little attention. The same
holds true for the reports of human rights agencies: much
attention for women and minority rights and very little
attention for the situation of Christians. This is not to say
there is anything wrong with the attention for the human rights
situation of Muslims, women, minorities or anyone else - on the
contrary, I think this is very important. I only wonder why
there is so little attention from human rights agencies for the
human rights situation of Christians in the Middle East.13
     I chose Sudan and Syria because of the contrast between
these two countries: Sudan is a country where an Islamic
government heavily persecutes Non-Muslims and Muslims who
disagree with the government's policies, whereas Syria is a
country with a secular government which offers Christians a
large amount of religious freedom. A second contrast is that in
Syria the most Christians belong to the same ethnic group as
the rest of the population, i.e Arabs, whereas the Christian
population in Sudan mostly consists of members of black African
tribes, and most Muslims (including the govern- ment) are
Arabs. I chose Libya because very little is known about this
country, both about the situation of Christians14 and about the

     13
        For instance there is no report from Middle East Watch
on the Christian minorities in the Middle East. Amnesty Inter-
national has published some reports on this subject. In their
report "Into the 1990's (1990), p.6 there is a section on the
Middle East called "Religious minorities and nationalities
targeted". However the only religious minority mentioned are
the Shi'a Muslims.
     14
       On the World Watch List - Freedom of Religion Libya has
the highest variation degree (the variation degree reflects the

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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

situation of other subjects. Therefore this country intrigues
me.

     This thesis depends on both oral and written sources. I
have done research in the Netherlands, Egypt, Sudan, Libya,
Malta, Syria, Cyprus and Switzerland.15 In the course of this
research I interviewed approximately 130 people.16 In addition I
made use of written material, like human right reports,
monographs, newspaper articles, magazine articles and other
documentation (see bibliography).

      This thesis opens with an introductory chapter. This chap-
ter deals with some general phenomena which influence the
situation of Christians in the Islamic world: what the sharica
(classical Islamic law) says about Christians, a concise
overview of Christian history in the Middle East and the role
of communal identity.
     After this chapter three more chapters will follow, one on
Syria, one on Libya and the last on Sudan. Each of these chap-
ters begins with a concise background of the situation of
Christians in each country. After this background information
these chapters try to answer the above-mentioned question: who
is persecuting who, in what way and why ?
      This thesis ends with a conclusion.

degree of uncertainty of the ranking because of the amount of
information that is available)
      15
        See Appendix C for an overview of my research in these
countries.
      16
        See also Appendix C. Sudan, Libya and Syria have re-
pressive regimes. This could be reflected in the information
from interview respondents in these countries. I tried to
forestall biases as a result of this by corroborating all
information as much as possible with information from other
sources.


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                       Chapter 1: Backgrounds


     This chapter deals with three subjects which influence the
situation of Christians in Islamic countries in general. First
the sharica (Islamic law), second the history of Christianity in
the Middle East and finally communal identities.

                        §1.1 sharica
     This section deals with the situation of Christians as
described in the sharica. First it gives a brief description of
the sharica, after which the provisions concerning Christians
will be dealt with and finally it looks at the influence of
these provisions on the Christians in everyday life.

                  §1.1.1 What is the sharica ?
     The word sharica occurs in the Quran (surat al-jashiya, 45,
verse 18)17 referring to "the right way" that God revealed to
mankind. Its commands encompass all aspects of life: creed,
forms of worship, transactions, principles of government,
criminal law, family law and moral rules. It is the whole of
prescribed rules, laws, values, criteria, behavioral patterns
and worship practices which are supposed to organize and guide
Muslim life both individually and collectively.
     The sharica is based on four sources: the Quran, words and
deeds of Muhammad (sunna), consensus (ijmac) of Islamic scholars
and reasoning by analogy (qiyas) by Islamic jurists.18 The
Islamic jurists did not agree on every matter which lead to the


     17
       Zayn Al-Abdin (1995), 20. Sura's (chapters of the Quran)
are called by their name (which is common use in the Islamic
World) and by their number (which is common use in the West).
     18
          See Nasir (1990), p.19-24 and Zayn al-Abdin (1995),
p.20-21


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                    St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

formation    of   different    law    schools.19     However,   these   disag-
reements are limited in scope (on details rather than on prin-
ciples). They all agree on the provisions regarding apostates
except for one point: the Hanafis rule that an apostate woman
should not be killed but put to prison for the rest of her life
(unless she returns to Islam). The other law schools rule that
both apostate men and women should be killed.20
     What is known today as the sharica did not come into
existence during the lifetime of Muhammad. The most important
body of the sharica was written down by many different jurists
from the 8th until the 12th century.21 However, the sharica "is
not a formally enacted legal code. It consists of a vast body
of jurisprudence in which individual jurists express their
views on the meaning of the Quran and sunna and the legal
implications of those views".22 The first attempt to codify the
sharica was the famous Mejelle, issued in the Ottoman Empire
between 1870 and 1876.23


             §1.1.2 The provisions concerning Christians
     Like the sharica as a whole, the provisions regarding Non-
Muslims are the result of a long formative period. The extent
to which the sharica (including the provisions regarding Non-

     19
        The four most important schools are: Hanafis, Malikis,
Shafiis and Hanbalis (Nasir (1990), p.15-18)
     20
          Ayoub (1994), p.89-90
     21
          Ali Engineer (1995), p.33-34.
     22
          An-Na`im (1990), p.19
     23
       The Mejelle was a code of law in the shape of a Western
code of law. It covered all areas of civil law personal status
law excluded. The Mejelle endured until the end of the empire
and persisted thereafter in many of the successor states (Yapp
(1991), p.113). The Mejelle also influenced the civil codes of
Syria, Iraq and Jordan (see Nasir (1990), p.24-28).


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Muslims) was applied in history varied from time to time and
from place to place, but it was never fully applied.24
     The sharica has several regulations on Non-Muslims. The
Non-Muslims are divided into the people of the book (ahl al-
kitab)25 and the infidels. Infidels have the choice between
conversion to Islam or being put to death. The people of the
book are allowed to sign a treaty with their Muslims rulers:
the so-called dhimma treaty. According to this treaty the dhim-
mis are to be tolerated and protected (dhimma means protection)
by their Muslim rulers, but they do not enjoy equal rights.
     The second-class status of the dhimmis is a consequence of
the sharica provisions.26 These provisions can be divided into
two categories:27 provisions dealing with the relations between
Muslims and dhimmis and provisions which emphasize the inferior
status of dhimmis.
     The first category includes provisions regarding family
law (e.g. the prohibition of marriage between a dhimmi man and
a Muslim woman), economic law (e.g. dhimmis are not allowed to
own a Quran, a Muslim slave or a house that is higher than the

     24
        Professor P. J. Vatikiotis summarizes this application
as follows: "The codifications of the sharica by the various
schools or rites of law [...] represent an ideal pattern of
conduct that was and often is overriden [sic] by local custom,
usage and tradition." (Vatikiotis (1991), p.39. The sharica
regulates both the relationship God - man (private life) and
the relationship man - man (public life). The regulations
concerning public life were never fully applied (Watt (1991b),
p.46).
     25
       Adherents to religions which received a revelation which
is considered holy by Muslims: Jews, Christians and Zoroastri-
ans.
     26
        See Shadid (1992), Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.87-158
and Fattal (1958) for a detailed account of the provisions in
the sharica on Christians.
     27
          Interview with Dr. D. Douwes


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

houses of Muslims in their neighbourhood), criminal law (e.g.
if a Muslim becomes a dhimmi he has to be put to death) and
fiscal law (e.g. a dhimmi has to pay a special kind of tax: the
so-called jizya).
     The second category includes provisions regarding civil
and political law (dhimmis are not allowed to occupy public
offices or to become a judge), religious freedom (e.g. dhimmis
are not allowed to construct new places of worship, they are
only allowed to practise their religion in private) and other
provisions (e.g. dhimmis also have to wear certain clothes so
they can be recognized as Non-Muslims and are not allowed to
carry arms or to ride a horse).
     As noted before the extent to which the sharica was applied
varied widely. However in general the first category of
provisions was usually applied whereas the provisions of the
second category were at times ignored or even seldom applied
(e.g. the wear of specific clothes).


                §1.1.3 Influence in everyday life
     I will not elaborate on the application of the sharica in
the past,28 but I will concentrate on the present. Nowadays, the
application of the sharica varies from place to place.29 In some
countries the sharica is the constitution (e.g. Saudi Arabia and
Sudan), some just call the sharica a source of legislation (e.g.
Egypt and Syria), while other constitutions do not refer to the
sharica at all (e.g. the constitutions of Tunisia and Turkey).
The Libyan constitution does not refer to the sharica, but in
1977 the General Pepole's Congress announced that "the Holy


     28
          For this subject see Fattal (1958)
     29
       For a overview of the legal status of the sharica in the
constitutions of countries with a majority of Muslims see
Rhoodie (1984), p.103-117


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Koran is the social code" in Libya.30
     In the countries that have the sharica as their constituti-
on the situation of the Christians is extensively influenced by
its provisions,31 but in the other Arabic countries too these
provisions have an influence on the situation of Christians in
various ways.
     Sometimes Non-Muslims are discriminated against by the
law. In most countries the field of family law is still
governed by the sharica. For instance, it is prohibited by law
for a Non-Muslim man to marry a Muslim woman (while a Muslim
man is allowed to marry a Non-Muslim woman).32 Another example
is the impossibility to change the registration of one's
religion. In most countries the government registers the
religion of its citizens. If a Non-Muslim converts to Islam it
is no problem to have his registration changed but if a Muslim
converts to Christianity he cannot change his registration.33
     Christians are sometimes treated according to provisions
set down in the sharica although the law does not prescribe this
- or sometimes even forbids it. A well- known example is the
treatment of Muslim converts to Christianity by local police
and security employees. Often they are arrested and tortured or


     30
          Fisher (1995b), p.741. See also chapter 3.
     31
        For Sudan see chapter 4, for Saudi Arabia see e.g.
Amnesty International, Religious Intolerance: The arrest,
detention and torture of Christian worshippers and Shi'a
Muslims, London, 1993 or U.S. State Department, Saudi Arabia
Human Rights Practices, Washington (yearly publication)
     32
        e.g. in Jordan, Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Bahrein, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria and Iraq (Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh
(1994), p.130-133 and Nasir (1990), p.70).
     33
        In only one Arab country a Muslim can register his
apostasy with the government: Lebanon (Open Doors (1996a), p.23
and Aucagne (1994), p.288-289).


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

otherwise pressured to return to Islam.34
     In other cases there are certain groups in society that
persecute Christians. Examples are: religious leaders in
Pakistan who try to get Christians convicted for blasphemy,35
the al-Gamaca al-Islamiyya movement which heavily persecutes
Christians in Upper Egypt (e.g. forcing them to pay the jiz-
 ya),36 violence against Christians in Bangladesh,37 etc.
     Another problem facing Christians in some Islamic coun-
tries is the construction of churches. For the construction of
a church a permit from the government is required. In some
countries these are very hard to get - for instance in Egypt,38
     34
        See for instance the reports of Middle East Concern (a
human rights organisation concerned with religious freedom in
the Middle East): Egypt's converts (Loughborough (UK), 1995)
and Morocco's toleration (Loughborough, 1995). In the report on
Morocco the writer (a close observer of the situation of
Christians in the Middle East) concluded: "What this reveals is
the current dissonance between the central government's
attitude of apparent toleration and hard line attitudes held by
local members of the judiciary and security elements" (p.1).
During a recent personal encounter he told me that he noted
this phenomenon all over the Islamic World. Well informed sour-
ces also described to me at least several of these cases in
Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iran and Paki-
stan.
     35
          See for example Amor (1994), 68-71
     36
        See for instance Amor (1994), p. 34 and Egyptian Orga-
nisation for Human Rights, Urgent report on the sectarian
massacre in Dairout by the Egyptian Organisation for Human
Rights, 1992. In this report the EOHR concluded that: "the
organisation called al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya in Dairout has, for
a number of years been practising systematic sectarian violence
within clear sight of the local authorities."
     37
       Amor (1994), p.19 "The Muslim extremists were reportedly
also responsible for serious attacks on Non-Muslim religious
minorities, including murders, abductions, rape, looting,
extortion and destruction of property, and threats to make them
leave the country."
     38
        In the decade of 1981-1990 only 10 permits to build a
new church were granted to the Coptic Orthodox Church (over 90%

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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Malaysia,39 Sudan40 and Turkey.41


     This section showed that the sharica encompasses all
aspects of life, but that it was never fully applied. We also
saw that there does not exist one universal sharica. In stead
there are several law schools who disagree on some provisions.
The sharica has several provisions relating to the personal,
economic,   civil,  political  and   religious  situation   of
Christians. The influence of these provisions on the lives of
Christians varies widely from one place to another place.
Nonetheless, it does influence the lives of many Christians.




         §1.2 History of Christians in the Middle East
     This section will give a short overview of the history of
Christianity in the Middle East in general and in Syria, Libya
and Sudan in particular.42 In addition two events that still
influence the situation of Christians today will be dealt with:
the Crusades and the relationship between local Christians and
the European countries in the late Ottoman period.



of the Christians in Egypt adhere to this church), while in
this period there was a considerable destruction of churches,
mainly through sectarian violence (see MEC, Church building
permits in Egypt, n.p., 1993
     39
          Amor (1994), p.59
     40
          See chapter 4
     41
          Amor (1994), p.102
     42
        For a detailed description of the history of Christia-
nity see Latourette (1947). For a shorter overview of the
history of Christianity in the Middle East see Valognes (1994),
p.21-104.


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                                      17
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                             §1.2.1 History
     Christianity originated in Palestine. Very                 soon it expan-
ded to Syria and further north to Cilicia, Asia                 Minor and from
there into Southern Europe. Christianity also                    soon expanded
westwards to Egypt and Cyrenaica. At the end                     of the first
century there were churches all around the Mediterranean. From
the end of the first century onwards Christianity has also
crossed the Euphrates and expanded further eastward.
     In the third century there were important Christian
communities in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia.43 In 383
Christianity was declared religion of the state in the Roman
Empire. Therefore many people converted to Christianity because
this offered economic and political advantages to them.
     In the fifth century major schisms occurred. In 431 the
Church of the East split from the church of the empire and
twenty years later they were followed by the Oriental Orthodox
Churches.44 In Egypt, South Turkey and North Syria most Chris-
tians were Oriental Orthodox and were persecuted by the Byzan-
tine government which adhered to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
     At the time of Muhammad - the beginning of the seventh
century - most people in the Middle East (except for those on
the Arab Peninsula) were Christians. On the Peninsula there
were Christian tribes in the Najran and in Yemen. During his
lifetime the Muslims conquered most of the Peninsula. Muhammad
offered the Jews and Christians on the Arab Peninsula a trea-
ty:45 the Jewish or Christian tribes regularly paid the Muslim -
people a tribute and the Muslims gave them an autonomous and
protected status within the Muslim state in exchange for this.

     43
          Valognes (1994), p.23
     44
          See Appendix B.
     45
        For the treatment         of    Christians     in      this   period see
Biegel (1972), p.42-56


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                                       18
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)
                                                        c
During the reign of the second caliph -                  Umar (634-44) - a
phenomenal expansion began which lasted for about a century. By
750 the Muslim empire extended from most of Spain and the whole
of North Africa in the west into Central Asia and the Punjab in
the east. The border in the south was the Arabian Sea and it
went up north as far as Syria. The Nestorian and Oriental
Orthodox Christians, who regarded the Islam as a branch of
Christianity, considered the Muslim armies their liberators
from the Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox) oppressors. Sometimes
they even fought alongside the              Muslim     armies     against    the
Byzantines.46
     The Muslim rulers applied               the    same       policy   to   the
Christians as Muhammad had done. They concluded treaties with
the inhabitants of cities which had surrendered. This meant
that the Christians paid tax and submitted to a number of
restrictions (see §1.1.2). In exchange the Muslim government
vowed to protect them and their property and allowed them some
room for autonomy under their religious head.
     In practise the Muslims acted with the Christians in
accordance with the treaties, although deviations occurred.
There have been only three caliphs who actively persecuted
Christians: the Umayyad caliph cUmar II (717-20), the Abbasid
caliph al-Mutawakkil (847-61) and the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim
(996-1021).47 Sometimes, the Christians were attacked by mobs
who physically abused them and destroyed property. This could
happen in times of crisis, when Christians displayed their

     46
          Muhammad (1994), p.5-6
     47
        al-Mutawakkil even demanded that all the Non-Muslim
graves would be destroyed and that Non-Muslim attached a wooden
demon statue to their houses (Biegel (1972), p.268 note 61).
Al-Hakim was a madman who persecuted anyone, including his
Sunni Muslim subjects. Kennedy describes him as an "eccentric",
"unstable psychopath" and "disordered personality" (Kennedy
(1986), p.331-3).


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                                      19
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

wealth or power too openly or when Christians had aided foreign
invaders (e.g. the Crusaders or the Mongols).48 However, out-
right violence was very rare.
     Since only Non-Muslims had to pay the extra poll-tax
(jizya), the Muslims made little attempt to convert their new
subjects to Islam - only for a short period in the 7th century
they discouraged conversion to Islam.49 This is why Christianity
survived throughout the region and maintained a majority in
most of the regions up to the 11th century. Nonetheless many
Christians converted to Islam for several reasons. They were
deeply affected by living under the new rulers and they under-
went a process of Arabization, i.e. they became Arabic in
language and culture.50 This Arabization accelerated the process
of Islamization. Furthermore, some Christians converted to
retain or promote economic, social and political interests.51
     Especially in the beginning the relationship between the
new Muslim rulers and their Non-Muslims subjects was generally
good. There are two main reasons for this. First of all the
Muslims were dependent on the economic and administrative
skills of their subjects for the administration of their newly
conquered empire.




     The second reason was the work of many Christian trans-

     48
        Biegel (1972), p.50,52; Watt (1991a), p.61. When the
Mongols occupied Damascus (1260) the Christians drank wine in
public and poured it over the clothes of Muslims and over the
doors of mosques! (Biegel op.cit. p.52)
     49
          Watt (1976), p.148-149; Biegel (1972), p.43
     50
          Hourani (1947), 18; Levtzion (1979), p.7
     51
          Levtzion (1979), p.9


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                                      20
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

lators during the so-called "age of transmission".52 This age
covered the period from roughly 750 till 950 when Christians
largely contributed to the creation of the Islamic civilisati-
on. Christian translators - mainly Nestorians and Syrian Ortho-
dox Christians - translated the entire range of Syrian Christi-
an and pagan Greek thought. These were the "catalytic agents
through which were created the characteristic insti-tutions of
medieval Islam".53
     From the 11th century onwards Christianity entered a
process of rapid decline and marginalization of its role and
effect in society because the more lenient and pragmatic ways
in which the rulers had treated the Christians began to chan-
ge.54 However, this decline differed between the various parts
of the Islamic World: in some parts Christianity vanished (e.g.
in the Maghreb55) while in other areas a large number of Chris-
tians remained (e.g. Egypt, Lebanon and Syria).
      This process of decline and marginalization had two
causes. Since the age of transmission was over the importance
of Christians in society diminished. Second, from this time the
       52
            Haddad (1970), p.12-13 and Samir (1986), p.26-27
       53
            Haddad (1970), p.12
       54
            Mitri (1987); Levtzion (1979), p.10 and Haddad (1970),
p. 4
       55
        The history of the demise of Christianity in North
Africa after the Islamic invasion (643) is subject to uncert-
ainties both because of the paucity of documentation and
because of discrepancies in the documents which do exist. There
are reports on indigenous Christianity up to the twelfth
century when the Almohads ruled. The former Islamic rulers
usually tolerated the Christians. The Almohads however, offered
Christians the choice between conversion to Islam or being put
to death (Teissier, p.5). Therefore from the twelfth century
onwards the Christians in Libya were European merchants,
artisans, slaves and members of the Dominican order (they came
to buy the freedom of Christian slaves and to set up schools to
study Libya and its language) (Fisset (1989), p.20).


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                                        21
                      St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

proportion      of    Muslims      in    the       population     increased   and
                                                                         c
consequently the influence of the Islamic scholars (the ulama)
increased. These culama regarded the lack of application of the
sharica provisions on Christians by the government as an affront
to Islam. They generated the common people's resentment against
the Non-Muslims and built up pressure on the authorities. These
sometimes yielded to this pressure and consequently enforced
the provisions of the sharica on Christians. During such periods
of distress -     which became more frequent during the late
Middle Ages - Christians converted to escape humiliating
conditions.
     One of these crises was the period of the Crusades. The
Crusades were a number of military expeditions of European
armies to the Middle East and the subsequent wars from 1096
until 1291. The Crusaders were able to establish four states:
one in Jerusalem, one in Antioch, one in Edessa and one in
Tripoli.56 During this time the Crusaders were notorious for
their cruelty committed against Muslims and Jews.
     The Crusaders considered these wars religious wars which
had to be fought to ensure that Christian pilgrims had free
access to Christian Holy Places in Palestine.57 Because they
depicted their actions as Christians fighting for a Christian
cause against the Non-Christians the Muslims started to asso-
ciate the local Christians with the Crusaders. Some Christians
- especially Maronites and Armenians - actually cooperated with
the Crusaders. The Crusaders respected the local Christian
hierarchies and granted them religious freedom and administra-
tive autonomy.58

     56
          For   a    detailed    account      of   the   Crusades   see Maalouf
(1984).
     57
          Watt (1991b), p.39
     58
          Valognes (1994), p.68


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                    St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     After    the   Crusades      the    Muslims     took       revenge   on   the
Christians. Under the rule of the Mamluks - who drove the
Crusaders out of the Levant - the situation of the Christians
was "the blackest period of their history".59 The Mamluk
government applied laws that were discriminatory against
Christians. Also, "Pogroms" against Christians were not out of
the ordinary. Although the intensity of the persecutions varied
widely in different places and times, many conversions
occurred60 during the 14th and 15th century.
     Starting in the later Abassid period the Turkish influence
increased. This culminated in the foundation of the (Turkish)
Ottoman Empire. This empire officially lasted until its
abolishment in 1922 when the Turkish nationalists proclaimed
the Turkish Republic. The Ottoman Empire was at its climax at
the end of the 16th century when it encompassed North Africa
from Egypt to Algeria, the eastern and western coastal parts of
the Arab Peninsula, the Fertile Crescent, Asia Minor, the
Balkan and parts of Central and Eastern Europe.
     The Ottoman Empire counted a large number of Christian
subjects - over thirty percent in the 16th century.61 These were
subject to roughly the same legal status as the Christians
during previous caliphates. However, since the Ottomans were
Non-Arabs, they had to seek the legitimation of their power in
their adherence to Islam in the beginning of their rule. They
therefore   strictly   applied   a   number of   discriminatory
                       c
provisions of the shari a to the dhimmis.
     It is often suggested that the Christian communities in
the Ottoman Empire were organized in so-called millets and that

     59
        "l'époque la plus noire de leur histoire" (Valognes
(1994), p.70).
     60
          Valognes (1994), p.70-71
     61
          Biegel (1972), p.59


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                                        23
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

the government dealt which each millet through its hierarchical
head. The head of a millet was responsible for his members
towards the government.      The millets were autonomous in
spiritual and certain administrative and judicial matters. The
head of a millet was elected by its members but had to be
appointed by the sultan. He had a high place in the official
hierarchy of the state and had the right to request an audience
with the sultan.




     However, up to the 19th century the Ottomans recognized
only two Christian millets:62 the Greek (Orthodox) millet (this
millet represented all the Chalcedonian Christians) and the
Armenian millet (this millet represented the Oriental Orthodox
Christians). During the 19th century the number of millets
started to increase under the influence of Europe. By 1914 the
Ottoman government recognized seventeen millets (all under
foreign protection).63
     However, this had not become common practise until the
19th century. In earlier periods the Ottomans commonly dealt
with smaller groups (ta`ifas) of Christians for most purposes
and rarely used the term millet except in relation to the
Muslim community.64
     Starting in the 13th century there was a Catholic mission
in the Muslim world. From the second half of the 19th century
onwards Protestant missions also entered these territories. The
missions' influence increased with the increase of the
influence of the European powers. Many Christians left the
     62
          Lewis (1995), p.322
     63
          Yapp (1991), p.110-111
     64
          Yapp (1991), p.6


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Orthodox    Churches   for   the   Catholic     Church     -   and   later   the
                       65
Protestant Churches    - because this brought them under the
protection of a European power.
     From the end of the 17th century onwards the European
governments tried to increase their influence on the Ottoman
Empire which had weakened to a large extent by this time. One
of the means they used in order to achieve this was to ally
themselves with one of the Christian denominations in the
empire through the system of the capitulations.
     The term capitulations "was used in Ottoman times for the
privileges granted by the Ottoman and other Muslim rulers to
Christian states, allowing their citizens to reside and trade
in the Muslim dominations without becoming liable to the fiscal
and other disabilities imposed by these Muslim rulers on their
own Non-Muslim subjects."66
     The European powers succeeded in obtaining ever new, more
favourable capitulations. In 1673, the French obtained the
right of protection of the Catholic clergymen in the empire and
with the new capitulations in 1740 they obtained the right to
protect all Catholics.67 Later the Russians obtained the right
to protect the Orthodox Christian communities and Britain the
Protestant communities.
     These special relations between the Europeans and certain
Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire found expression
mainly in the areas of commerce, education and in diplomatic
activities in order to improve the position of the protected
minority.
     The European powers often employed local Christians as
their agents in the Ottoman Empire. The protected Christian
     65
          See also Appendix B
     66
          Lewis (1995), p.291
     67
          Valognes (1994), p.78-79


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                                      25
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

communities    also   benefitted     from    the    fiscal     and   commercial
advantages of the capitulations. Consequently, the predominance
of foreigners and Christians in financial matters was
"overwhelming" in the early years of the 20th century.68
     The Europeans, mainly the Catholic and later the Protes-
tant missions, founded many schools in the Ottoman Empire.
Apart from Christians these schools also attracted Muslims. In
the beginning pupils of these schools were sent to Europe for
higher education, but from the second half of the 19th century
Western colleges were established in several Middle Eastern
cities.
     Through these contacts between Europeans and Ottomans
(mainly Christians) the latter were introduced to the European
culture. In the 19th century this resulted in the so-called
Nahda (awakening): the awakening of Arab literature. Writers
tried to harmonize traditional Arab literature with trends of
Western thought.69 From the second half of the 19th century
onwards the birth and expansion of journalism, theatre, the
novel, scientific magazines, modern poetry, painting and
sculpture and, later on,      the cinema took place.70
     The Europeans also        introduced new political ideas, e.g.
nationalism, liberalism        and constitutionalism. Consequently,
movements which demanded       autonomy - or sometimes even complete
independence - for different areas within the Ottoman Empire
developed. Christians played a major role in these movements.71
     68
          Lewis (1995), p.293
     69
          Samir (1986), p.28
     70
        Op. cit. For a short overview of writers, periodicals
and newspapers in this time see Valognes (1994), p.91-92 and
Yapp (1991), p.203
     71
        Christians played an important role in the formation of
the nationalist Baath Party (in Syria) and the nationalist Wafd
Party in Egypt.


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                                      26
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     In the 19th century Europe forced the sultan to issue a
number of decrees which implicitly acknowledged the equality of
civic rights and duties of all Ottoman subjects, regardless of
their religion (among them the famous Mejelle, see §1.1.1).72
However, these reforms were not fully carried out until after
the first World War.
     The Ottomans joined the war at the side that lost and
during the peace talks the Ottoman Empire was divided into
mandates under the rule of the European countries, mainly
France and Great-Britain,73 and independent states, like Egypt
and Turkey. The new rulers in the mandates again declared the
equality for all the subjects regardless of their faith and
they governed accordingly. However, the European powers favou-
red their fellow Christians in their mandates. Also the Chris-
tians were sometimes westernized to a larger degree than their
Muslim neighbours. Consequently, this traditionally unfavoured
group was now favoured.
     The French and British rulers also applied divide-and-rule
policies by employing many members of minorities in the civil
administration and the army. Local security agents were
preferably recruited from among minorities. European companies
also employed Christians by preference. As a consequence, the
minorities acquired a disproportional large amount of power and
influence. Nonetheless many Christians perceived the mandatory
powers as occupiers and cooperated with the Muslims in
obtaining independence.
     After the Middle East gained its independence the Chris-
tians lost most of their power in the civil administration and
the army. However, they often succeeded in preserving their
     72
          Valognes (1994), p.88-90
     73
       With the exception of what today is called Turkey, which
gained its independence. For a description of Christians during
this period see Biegel (1972), p.91-97.


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                                      27
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

prominence in the economic, commercial and financial sphere and
in the free professions.
     Although emigration74 of Christians from the Middle East
did occur before the second half of the 19th century, it always
was on a small scale. The reasons were either education -
mostly the theological seminaries in Rome - or better economic
prospects.75
     From the second half of the 19th century onward emigration
became an important phenomenon in the Middle East. A vast
majority of the emigrants was Christian. Destinations were
Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. At present,
the emigration is one of the largest problems of Christianity
in the Middle East since the large number of                   Christian
emigrants are a threat to the continuity of the                Christian
presence in the Middle East.76

     The main causes for emigration are better economic situa-
tion in the receiving countries, war (e.g. Lebanon from 1975-
1991, the several Israeli-Arab wars and the Gulf War in 1991)
and the Islamic revivalism: many Christians feel they are not
wanted in the Middle East and that they have no future in a
society that becomes increasingly Islamized.


     This paragraph gave a short overview of the history of
Christians in the Middle East. From the beginning of Islam
     74
        For emigration see MECC (1986b), MECC (1990b), MECC
(1994) and Ostling (1990).
     75
          MECC (1994), p.3
     76
        The Middle East Council of Churches speaks of "the
importance of emigration and its alarming consequences on the
future Christian presence in the Middle East [which has] forced
them to look for a solution" (MECC (1990b), p.7) and of an
"ongoing drain" to which there is "unanimous opposition" (by
the Churches) (MECC (1986b), p.24).


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                                      28
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

until the end of the 19th century they were given a special
autonomous status within the Islamic empires. In exchange for
their autonomy they were made subject to a number of discrimi-
natory regulations set forth in the sharica. After the Muslim
conquest Christians made an important contribution to the
emerging Islamic civilisation by acquainting the Muslims with
the ancient Greek and Christian thought. Christianity started
to become marginalised after this so-called "age of trans-
mission".
     The European powers increasingly allied themselves with
Christian communities from the 17th century onwards in order to
gain influence in the domestic affairs of the Ottoman Empire.
This improved the situation of many Christians. The position of
the Christians improved even more in the time of the mandates.
After the independence Christians lost most of their influence
in the administration. At present, the most important problem
of Middle Eastern Christianity is the ongoing emigration.


      §1.2.2 Influence of history on the present situation
     The present is always largely influenced by the past.
Likewise the situation of Christians in the Middle East is
still influenced by their history as portrayed in the previous
paragraph. This section deals with three important phenomena
that are a result of history and their influence on the
situation of Christians at present: the division among
Christians, the decline of the number of Christians in the
Middle East and the relationship between Middle Eastern
Christians and the West.
     One result of history is the division among Middle Eastern
Christians. Christian denominations that resulted from all the
different schisms are still present: in the fifth century
(Assyrian and Oriental Orthodox Christians), the eleventh
century (Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians) and the



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                                     29
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Reformation (many different Protestant denomi-nations).77
     These divisions caused and still cause enmity among
Christians in the Middle East. The relations between the
Orthodox and the Catholics and Protestants in particular are
often restrained because most Catholics are converts from the
Orthodox churches and most Protestants are converts from the
Orthodox and Catholic churches. This lack of unity weakens the
position of Christians in the Middle East (both in their
relationship with the government and in their relationship with
their Muslim co-citizens).
     A second phenomenon in the history of Christianity in the
Middle East is the decline of the number of Christians. This
decline weakened the influence and the position of Christians
in their societies. This decline also caused many Christians
(both in the Middle East and outside the Middle East) to
believe that the Islam is an anti-Christian religion that
forced the Christians to convert to Christianity by the sword.78
     This perception of their history caused many Christians to
 have a negative attitude towards the Islam. It also resulted
in the view that co-existence with a Muslim majority is diffi-
cult if not impossible. Many Christians have a "minority-
complex", i.e. often when they are (or even feel) discriminated
against or one of their rights is violated they claim religious
persecution. Even in countries with a fairly good situation for
Christians (e.g. Syria) Christians suffer from this complex.79

     77
          See also Appendix B
     78
        Everywhere in the Middle East many Christians tell
stories of how the invading Muslim armies gave the Christian
inhabitants the choice between conversion to Islam and death.
The previous paragraph showed that this actually rarely
happened.
     79
        Several interviews with observers in Syria and my own
observations in the Middle East.


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                                      30
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Actually   these   acts    of    persecution      against      Christians   are
sometimes caused by other factors - like the general repression
of all citizens by the government or ethnic tensions.
     A third phenomenon in history with a large influence
nowadays is the relation between Middle Eastern Christians and
Europe. Especially two events are important concerning this
phenomenon: the Crusades and the bonds of Middle Eastern
Christians with Europe from the 17th century onwards.
     Although it happened a long time ago the Crusades do play
a role in the Muslim perception of Christianity in general and
the West in particular. Karen Armstrong notes that during the
Gulf War both many media and religious and political figures
explained the zeal of the West in terms of a Crusade: "the
spontaneous and instinctive use of the word 'Crusade' in the
Muslim world showed that, whatever Western people may think,
crusading is not a dead         issue in the region. It is central to
the Muslim perception of        the West."80
     At present in the          Middle East, the interference of the
West is often seen as           a continuation of the Crusades (the
importance of the Crusades for the Muslim perception of the
West and Christianity is a new phenomenon, mainly since the
foundation of the state of Israel in 1948). Christians are
associated with the West and its policies, which are often
regarded as aimed against the Islam. Christians are therefore
often suspected of having a lack of loyalty to their state and
sometimes they are even held accountable for actions committed
by the West81 (see also §1.3.2).
     80
        Armstrong (1992), p.ix). Amin Maalouf (1984) notes the
same phenomenon in the epilogue of his book.
     81
        Vice versa, a joint declaration of the Dutch Council of
Churches and the Dutch Muslim Council (of March 17th, 1995)
states that "Muslims in our country [i.e. the Netherlands]
report more and more that they are called to account for abuses
that occur abroad..." (Moslims in ons land melden steeds vaker
dat zij ter verantwoording worden geroepen voor misstanden die

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                                      31
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     Relations between local Christians and European countries
during the Ottoman and mandate periods had a similar effect.
Many Christians associated themselves with the European powers,
which were regarded as the enemies and often cooperated with
the Europeans in the administration, during the mandate period
which most Muslims, and many Christians, regarded as an
occupation. Therefore, Christians were accused of unloyal and
even treacherous behaviour.


                    §1.3 Communal identity
     This section deals with the influence of Muslim percepti-
ons of Christianity - which is formed to a large extent by
history - on the positions of Christians. First, we will look
at the importance of communal identities in everyday life in
the Middle East, then at the Muslim perception of Christians in
general and finally at the Muslim perception of a special group
of Christians: the converts from Islam.


         §1.3.1 Communal identities in the Middle East
     The societies in the Middle East are characterized by
corporateness.82 Corporateness is the sense of "the inviolabi-
lity of [...] social groups, of their indivisible unity that
persists regardless of the constituent members".83 Individuals
are members of different groups, e.g. the family, extended
family, denomination, religion etc.
     The personal status of an individual member is defined by
the group. As an individual he is less significant, but as a
social being he has more significance. The individuals are
expected to sacrifice their own needs for the greater good of

zich in het buitenland voordoen...).
     82
          This term is derived from Rugh (1985).
     83
          Rugh (1985), p.32


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                                      32
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

the group. A group becomes "the bottom line for most kinds of
social and economic organisation."84
     Religious identity in the Middle East is still very
important. Usually, members of a family all adhere to one and
the same religion. Conversion from one religion to another is
considered to be treason to the religious community and brings
great shame upon the family.85 In daily life some sort of
segregation often exists.86 Christians sometimes do not want to
hire a Muslim and vice versa. Christians often go to a
Christian doctor, pharmacist etc. and Muslims to a Muslim
doctor and pharmacist. There also often exists a geographical
segregation. Villages are often mainly Christian or mainly
Muslim and many cities have quarters which are either mainly
inhabited by Christians or by Muslims, although there are mixed
villages and quarters.
     The influence of communal identities varies from one place
to another. In large cities, like Cairo or Damascus, this
influence is usually much smaller than in smaller cities or
villages. Also in the lower classes their influence is much
larger than in the higher classes. However,                    the   religious
identity generally influences one's life.


             §1.3.2 Muslim perception of Christians
     The perception of Christians by Muslims is influenced by
three notions: the Islamic perception of Christianity, the
perception many Christians have of Muslims and the equation of
Christianity with the West.
     84
          Rugh (1985), 281
     85
          See §1.3.3
     86
        This information has been derived from a non-published
paper Christenen in Egypte (Christians in Egypt), written by H.
Hulsebos (1995), but the same phenomena can be seen in other
Middle Eastern countries.


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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     A large number of Muslims perceive Christianity as infe-
rior to their own religious beliefs.87 In the past Allah sent
prophets to make His will known. But after some time the people
were going astray from the true faith. Judaism is the
falsification of the messages Allah gave to the prophets Moses
and David, and Christianity is the falsification of the
messages Allah gave through the prophet Jesus. Islam is seen as
the ultimate truth Allah sent, through the prophet Muhammad to
the people who were going astray. Islam is therefore seen as
the correction of the other religions that were falsified and
which are leading people astray.
     Theoretically there is no separation of religion and state
in Islam. In practise however, such a separation often exists.
Nonetheless, the notion that such a separation does not exist,
influences the Islamic theological perception of Christians as
members of society. Christians are sometimes merely tolerated
within Islamic society. Some Muslims do not consider them to be
full members of society, equal to their Muslim fellow citizens.
     This idea has been strengthened by the revivalism within
Islam. This leads many Muslims closer to the perception of
Christians as described in the sharica: that there is a place
for Christians in Islamic society but that they should remain
in the background.88
     Similar to the Muslim perception of Christians, many
Christians tend to look down on Muslims. Christians benefited
more from the European influence on the Ottoman Empire than
most Muslims. As a result of their close ties with the West
during the last years of the Ottoman Empire many Christians

     87
        For a description of the Islamic perception of Christi-
anity see Jomier (1988), p.123-124.
     88
        Stated by J. Strengholt (former Dutch correspondent in
the Middle East) during an interview in 1994. Also see Habib
(1985), p.30-31


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                                     34
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

were better educated and more familiar with the ideas of the
West (which was superior to the Ottoman Empire in technology
and science). Nowadays many Christians are still more Western-
orientated than most Muslims and the West is still regarded as
superior to the Islamic World. This gives many Christians a
sense of superiority over Muslims.



     A third notion which influences the Muslim perception of
Christians is the equation of the West with Christianity, which
cast doubts on the loyalty of the local Christians to their
Muslim homelands. "In reaction to Western Christianity and to
Western culture Muslims, sometimes on purpose but for the most
part unwittingly, are putting heavy pressure on local
Christians whom they see as part and parcel of that general
realm of Christendom".89
     In the past the West regarded itself and portrayed itself
as Christian. Wars were often portrayed as religious wars by
Christians against the 'infidel' Muslims. Local Christians
sometimes cooperated with the West in these                   wars against
Muslims and the Islam (see § 1.2.2). This gave                 - and still
gives - a large number of Muslims the notion of               Christianity,
both Western and Eastern, as being hostile against            Islam.
     This perception is strengthened by the large communities
of Middle Eastern Christians in the West as a result of
emigration. The ties of these communities in the West with
their co-religionists in the Middle East strengthens the Muslim
perception of close ties between Middle Eastern Christians and
the West.
     A more recent event also strengthened this notion. This
event was the foundation of Israel. Since the West advocated,
     89
        Habib (1985), p.31. For the equation of Christianity
with the West see also Schlossberg (1991), p.38-39


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                                     35
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

financed and supported Israel's existence as a nation and its
wars against Arabs - who are mainly Muslim - this is perceived
by many Muslims as "the consequence of the Judeo-Christian
heritage, increasingly known throughout the Arab world as the
Zionist-Crusader conspiracy against Islam".90 This is streng-
thened by the positive attitude of many Western Christians
 - especially Protestants - towards the Jews and Israel on
theological grounds.91 Another link between Israel and (local)
Christians is the cooperation between Israel and Christian
militias during the war in Lebanon.92
     The Islamic revivalism also influences the perception
regarding Christians.93 The revivalism is often a reaction
against the ideologies of secularism and, especially, secular
nationalism because according to secular nationalism one's
status in society is not derived from one's religion, like in
Islamic thought, but from one's nationality. These ideologies
were brought to the Middle East by the European powers and
European-type education. Since these ideas did not bring any
solutions to the problems of the Middle East, people are
looking for new ideologies. The Islamic revivalism holds that
the adoption of secularism and nationalism is the cause of the
problems in the Middle East and that the solution lies in
returning to Islam.
     These secular ideas come from the West - which is equated
with Christianity. Also, Christians were often very receptive
to these ideas - because nationalism defines membership of the
society on the basis of nationality and not on the basis of

     90
          Haddad (1988), p.73
     91
          Haddad (1988), p.67-74
     92
          Haddad (1988), p.72
     93
          See Habib (1987)


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                                      36
                    St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

religion. Therefore this Islamic revivalism "is bound to have
anti-Christian overtones".94
      This negative perception of Christians by many Muslims
has triggered some reactions from Middle Eastern Christians.
Many Christians do not feel to be full members of society
themselves. They often equate the institutions of the state
with Islam and believe they do not receive equal treatment.
Therefore they often turn to the Church more than to state
institutions.95 One Lebanese scholar characterized the feelings
of many Christians as "a broader feeling that a handful of
Christians are not really wanted in the Islamic World".96


                     §1.3.3 Muslim Converts
     Apostasy occurs when "someone who legally was a Muslim,
either by birth or as a consequence of conversion, ceases to be
one".97 The situation is even more grave if a Muslim abandons
his faith in order to adopt another.98 Traditionally, the
sharica prescribes the death penalty for apostasy,99 although
according to many jurists an apostate should be given the
chance to repent and return to Islam.100 Some jurists - mainly


     94
           Habib (1987), p.24
     95
           Rugh (1985), p.207
     96
           quoted from Ostling (1990), p.45
     97
       "ceux qui étant légalement musulmans, soit de naissance,
soit à la suite de conversion, cessent de l'être" (Aldeeb Abu-
Sahlieh (1994), p.106)
     98
           op.cit. p.111
     99
        see §1.1.2. See also Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.106;
Ayoub (1994) and Van der Heijden (1991), p.34
     100
         Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.106 and Ayoub (1994),
p.88-89. Ayoub (op. cit.) states that many jurists hold that
"enjoining repentance is commendable, not mandatory".


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                                       37
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Hanafis - ruled against the killing of female apostates.101
     Since most Muslims consider Islam the superior religion it
is inconceivable to them that a Muslim would ever abandon Islam
for another faith. Therefore many Muslims think that when a
Muslim converts it is because he is forced to do so, because he
is ignorant or because he did it for personal gain (to get a
visa for a Western country, or a job, or to marry, etc.).102
     The consequences for the apostate are often serious.103 In
Islam there is no separation of private and public religious
identity. Therefore many Muslims regard apostasy as treason to
the whole Muslim society. Usually, the apostates are ostracized
by their extended family and their community. They are also
exposed to the vengeance of the family because they have
brought great shame upon the honour of the family. Conversions
sometimes lead to communal unrest against Christians.
     Apostasy is also discouraged - and usually punished - by
the governments (see §1.1.3).104 Since there is theoretically no
     101
           Ayoub (1994), p.89
     102
         See Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.111; Laffin (1975),
p.443-44. This is corroborated by many talks I had with Mus-
lims, both in the Middle East and in Europe.
     103
         See Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994),                   p.108-111;   Laffin
(1975), p.43-44; Schlossberg (1991), p.34
     104
         Several Muslim countries reacted against the part of
art. 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that
states that everyone has the right to freedom to change his
religion (especially Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and Iraq). The
discussion arose concerning the Declaration on the Elimination
of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on
Religion or Belief. Reactions came from Iran, Syria, Egypt and
Iraq, which spoke on behalf of the Islamic Conference Organi-
sation (Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.104-105).
     The Islamic Conference Organisation is an organisation
which has 42 member states whose ministers of Foreign Affairs
meet annually. In 1990, during a summit of the ministers of
Foreign Affairs, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights was
issued. Concerning conversions it stated: "Islam is the reli-
gion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form

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                                      38
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

separation between religion and politics, conversion from Islam
to Christianity is often not seen as merely a religious act,
but also a political one: one chooses to leave the Muslim
society to become a member of the Christian society. A second
reason why some governments discourage conversions is because
it may cause communal unrest.

     This chapter dealt with general phenomena that influence
the situation of Christians in the Middle East today. First we
looked at the sharica. There is not one universal sharica but
that there are differences between the law schools and some-
times even within a school. At present, there are a few
countries that claim to apply it in full. In other countries
some parts of the law are influenced by the sharica and some of
its provisions are often put to practise even when these are
not prescribed by law.
     During its history part of the sharica was usually applied
to Christians; some periods the sharica was fully applied and
sometimes there were severe persecutions and forced conversi-
ons. The fact that during some periods Christians allied
themselves to Non-Muslim enemies of the empires made them
suspicious in the eyes of their Muslim neighbours. This idea is
still alive today, reinforced by the Western domination in the
Middle East and its support of Israel.
     Since Islam is regarded as the superior religion Muslims
feel superior to their Christian co-citizens. Apostasy from
this religion is regarded as treason by the family, the
community and the state.



of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in
order to convert him to another religion or to atheism"
(art.10). The declaration states nothing on conversion from
another religion to Islam.


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                           Chapter 2: Syria


     This chapter deals with the human rights situation of
Christians in Syria.105 The first paragraph gives some relevant
general background information on the Syrian society and on
Christians and their relations with others. In the second para-
graph the questionnaire enclosed as appendix A will be
answered. Finally, the data of the first two paragraphs will be
analyzed in paragraph 3.


          §2.1.1 General background on Syrian society
     Syrian society is one of the most heterogeneous societies
in the Middle East. The different ethnic groups include Arab
Syrians, Kurds, Palestinians, Armenians, Circassians and Turks.
The religious communities include Sunni Muslims, Alawis (or
Nusairis), Druze, Ismailis, Jews and Christians. The Sunnis are
the majority (approximately 75%). The Alawis are the largest
minority (approximately 12%).106
     In Syria ethnic and religious identities play an important
role. The loyalty to the ethnic or religious group often
supersedes the loyalty to the nation.107 Many regimes have
"manipulated ethnic and religious feelings to strengthen its
hold on power."108 The present president, Asad, belongs to the
     105
        This chapter is     based on literature and numerous inter-
views. The literature        is listed in the bibliography; the
interviews are listed       in appendix C. For the sake of the
personal safety of the       people I interviewed, I do not quote
them by name.
     106
        MEW (1991), p.90. The Christians are divided in nume-
rous denominations (see §2.1.2).
     107
        Abdallah (1983), p.34 ; Kelidar (1974), p.20 and MEW
(1991), p.89
     108
        MEW (1991), p.89, also ibid. p.91 in which the present
regime is accused of "perpetuating the French legacy of commu-
nity rivalry as a ruling strategy."


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                                     40
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Alawi minority. In order to stay in power he uses various
tools, two of which are particularly relevant to the subject of
this thesis. First he has tried to involve other minorities in
his regime in order to give them an interest in the continua-
tion of his regime. Secondly he uses systematic repression in
order to suppress any opposition to his regime.
     During the French mandate one way for minorities to impro-
ve their situation was going to a military academy. Therefore
the army counted a disproportionably high number of minority
officers. After the 1963 coup, Alawis started to slowly become
more and more powerful in the army.109 In 1970 another coup took
place that brought the present president to power: Hafiz al-
Asad.
     The present regime officially implements the Arab nationa-
list doctrine of the Baath party: deemphasizing the religious
and ethnic    differences and changing Syria into a nation-state
in which     everyone is considered equal.110 It is therefore
prohibited    to "speak or even think in terms of Muslims -
Christian,   or other dichotomies". This is regarded as "blasp-
hemous".111 According to the official view, Syria is "composed
of different ethnic and religious groups, but surely not
divided between them".112 In practise however, the allocation of
jobs in the administration is often influenced by one's reli-
gious or ethnic identity.
     Asad relied on his co-religionists to remain in power. An
important event in this matter was the Syrian invasion in

     109
           Chouet (1995), p.94
     110
           N. van Dam in an interview (De Gruyter (1996), p.54)
     111
         Several interviews with Christian leaders and former
civil servants. Van Dam (De Gruyter (1996), p.54) calls this
dichotomy "the greatest taboo of Syria".
     112
           ibid.


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                                      41
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Lebanon (1976). The Syrian armies invaded this country to help
Christian   militias  which   fought   Muslim  and   Palestinian
militias. This caused large-scale protests in the Arab world
and in Syria, including many riots. This resulted in a
shrinking of the "circle of confidants" of the president.113


     At present, the security services and the command of key
military units at the division and brigade levels are securely
in Alawi hands.114 At the same time a handful of Druzes, Kurds
and Sunnis - who have proven their loyalty to the regime - have
occupied top positions, but their top assistants are often
Alawis.115 At lower positions - both in the army and in the
administration - Sunnis and the minorities participate. The
minorities have a disproportionably high share in these
posts.116
     The president and his family try to broaden the basis of
their power. They try to achieve this by creating bonds with
important families in the other communities through giving
their children in marriage to the children of these families.117
Vice-president Rifaat al-Asad, for instance, is married to four
women: two from important Alawi families and two from important


     113
           Chouet (1995), p.112 and interview with Dr. D. Douwes.
     114
           MEW (1991), p.93
     115
         MEW (1991), p.94; Chouet (1995), p.103 and Abdallah
(1983), p.80. Examples of Sunnis in high places are: Abd al-
Halim Khaddam (Vice-president for Political and Foreign Af-
fairs), Gen. Mustafa Tlass (deputy Prime Minister and minister
of Defense), Hikmat Shihabi (Army Chief-of-Staff and the leader
of the peace negotiations with Israel) (Van Dam (quoted in: De
Gruyter (1996), p.54) and MEW (1991), p.94).
     116
        Several interviews with Christian leaders and Western
diplomats.
     117
           Chouet (1995), p.113-116


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                                      42
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Sunni families.118
     Although Christian individuals have occupied high posts in
this regime, Christians are not favoured as a group.119 Since
1992 there have been no Christian ministers. In 1994 Christians
occupied four (out of 250) seats in parliament. In the
administration they are better represented, but seldom in high
places. Christians are well-represented in the diplomatic
service because of "their familiarity with the outside
world".120 Christians are also well represented in consultative
posts, "where their talents can be used with discretion and
without risk"121 (of offending the Muslim majority).
     Syria is notorious for its "severe human rights violati-
ons".122 Since the present government came to power as the
result of a military coup and is dominated by a minority, the
regime has to rely on a large amount of repression. There are
several security services which are monitoring everyone (inclu-
ding each other). Each and every act that is regarded as
subversive is severely punished.
     The human rights violations include the widespread use of
torture, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention without
trial, continued imprisonment after prisoners have served their

     118
           Op. cit., p.113
     119
        Van Dam (1979), p.102. For the following distribution
of Christians over the administration see Valognes (1994),
p.715-716.
     120
         "leur familiarité avec le monde extérieur" (Valognes
(1994), p.716)
     121
        "où leurs talents peuvent être utilisés dans la dis-
crètion et sans risque" (Valognes (1994), p.716). Both presi-
dent Hafiz al-Asad and his brother vice-president Rifaat al-
Asad have Christian counsellors (Chouet (1995), p.112).
     122
         USSD (1995a), introduction. This section is based on
USSD (1993), p.1088-1095 and USSD (1995a).


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                                      43
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

sentences, unfair trials in state security cases, the denial of
the freedoms of speech, press and association, abuses committed
under the state of emergency and suppression of workers rights.
The    security   services   selectively    monitor   telephone
conversations and facsimile transmissions and interfere with
the mail.

                §2.1.2 Background on Christians
     Like in most Middle Eastern countries the number of Chris-
tians in Syria is uncertain.123 The most reliable and con-
temporary sources estimate the number around 10% of the popu-
lation (approximately 1 million people).
     The majority of the Christians live in the coastal area
around Latakia and Tartus, in Aleppo, in the Hauran (or Jebal
Arab, in the Southwest) and in the Jazira (North-East Syria).
Smaller numbers live in Homs and Damascus. As a result of the
migration of many Christians from rural areas (around Latakia,
the Hauran and the Jazira) to the cities the number of Chris-
tians in Homs and Damascus has increased considerably.124
      The numbers of Christians divided over the denominations
    125
are:     - Eastern Orthodox: between 400,000 and 450,000
        - Syrian Orthodox:126 approximately 80,000

     123
         Piecuch (1989), p.3: 13% of the population; Horner
(1989), 115: 9.29%; Abdallah (1983), p.35: 10%; Van Dam (1979),
15: 14.1%; Johnstone (1993), p.523: 8%; UNHCR (1993a), p.1:
10%; Valognes (1994), p.699: 10%; MEW (1991), p. 90: 8%; during
interviews I was given the following numbers: 8%; between 10%
and 12%; between 15% and 20%.
     124
           Horner (1989), p.87 and Valognes (1994), p.713-714.
     125
        For numbers of the different denominations see Horner
(1989), p.115; Johnstone (1993), p.523; Fischer (1995a), p.904-
905; MEW (1991), p.90; Agnelli (1996), p.61 and Valognes
(1994), p.713.
     126
         Although there exist indigenous Syrian Orthodox
communities in Syria, most Syrian Orthodox are refugees from

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                                      44
                      St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

           - Armenian Orthodox:127 between 120,000 and 150,000
           -   Assyrians:128 approximately 15,000
           -   Melkite: between 150,000 and 160,000
           -   Syrian Catholics: approximately 30,000
           -   Armenian Catholics: approximately 25,000
           -   Maronites: between 25,000 and 30,000
           -   Latin-rite Catholics: approximately 10,000
           -   Chaldeans: approximately 10,000
           -   Protestants: approximately 15,000
     With the exception             of   Armenians       and      Assyrians,   most
Christians are Arabs.129




     The different churches are much divided amongst each
other.130 The worst is the relationship between the Protestant
Churches and the Orthodox and Catholic Churches - the Eastern
Orthodox Church in particular.131 Although bishops and patri-
archs do not easily speak negatively about Protestants many
priests often do. Protestants are commonly called Jehovah
Witnesses.132 The main cause for the bad relationship between


Southern Turkey or their descendants.
     127
           Mainly refugees from Turkey or their descendants.
     128
        Refugees coming from Iraq after the massacres of 1933
and after the Gulf War of 1991.
     129
           UNHCR (1993a), p.1
     130
           Sicking (1989), p.73-79
     131
        Several interviews with leaders of the different chur-
ches and Salibi (1992), p.136
     132
           Several interviews and Open Doors (1996a), p.18


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                                         45
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

the Protestants and the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is the
fact that most of the Protestants (or their ancestors)
originally came from the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. The
Protestant Churches are often accused of "sheep-stealing".
     The relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholics is
sometimes restrained. The Orthodox consider the Catholics
Western intruders133 (the Uniate Churches all split from the
Orthodox Churches as a result of the Catholic missions - see
appendix B). The Orthodox and Catholic Churches sometimes
quarrel over property (usually church buildings). Occasionally
these quarrels have been taken to court.134
     In daily life these divisions between Orthodox and Catho-
lics often only exist among the hierarchies, not among the
common Christians.135 However, on the higher level there is also
increasingly a more ecumenical spirit.136 In Aleppo the leaders
of the different Churches meet each other every month and once
a year they have a dinner together. Once a year the churches
celebrate a mass together in Damascus. They also visit the
ceremonies that are organised by the other churches.
     Lay Christians are "more aware of their global identity as
Christians vis-à-vis Muslims than of the disputes between
churches".137

     133
        Sicking (1989), p.74. Many Orthodox see the union of
the Uniate churches with Rome as a Westernization ("Occidenta-
lisation") (op. cit.)
     134
        Interviews with an Orthodox MECC employee and a Catho-
lic leader.
     135
         Valognes (1994), p.732; Picchi (1991), p.12; Ploquin
(1996), p.10 and Sicking (1989), p.74-79.
     136
           Interviews and Valognes (1994), p.732-733
     137
        "plus sensibles à leur identité globale de chrétien en
face de musulmans qu'aux disputes entre Eglises." (Sicking
(1989), p.77)


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                                      46
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     The churches that are most open towards other churches are
the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Syrian Catholic Church. The
church that is least open towards others is the Eastern
Orthodox Church (they lost many members to the Catholic and
Protestant Churches).138


     The Muslim-Christian relationships in Syria are "even less
cordial than in neighbouring states", although this is not
reflected in open hostility.139 Many Christians watch Mus-lims
with a mixture of contempt and fear.140 They feel  some-what
superior because many Christians have for long been better
educated and more developed than many Muslims. On the other
hand they fear that the Sunni Muslim majority will come to
power sometime and that this would deteriorate the situation of
the Christians.
     Many Muslims, who are aware of the attitude of Christians,
feel superior to Christians.141 They view Christians as being
not very religious, drinking alcohol, their women as being
dressed indecently and behaving licentiously. Another reason
for the restrained relation is that Muslims believe that the
government favours Christians over Muslims.
     The mutual dislike is reflected in the tendency of Chris-


     138
         All observers and representatives of the Middle East
Council of Churches agreed unanimously on this matter.
     139
         Horner (1989), p.87 and several interviews. In the
Jazira there seems to be some open hostility from Kurds towards
Christians, like intimidations and coercion to sell their lands
(interviews with Syrian and foreign observers who regularly
visit the area and Valognes (1994), p.730).
     140
        Interviews with a foreign observer who lives in Syria
and Piecuch (1989), p.3.
     141
           Interviews; Piecuch (1989), p.3 and Valognes (1994),
p.729.


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                                     47
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

tians to be somewhat "defensive and self-contained".142 Many
observers note that Muslims and Christians do not like to mix
(e.g. live in the same quarters).143
     The Muslim and Christian leaders claim to have a good
relationship with each other and visit each other's festi-
vals.144 The Melkite patriarch (Maximos V Hakim) described this
relation as follows: "We have a good report with the leaders
of the Muslims. We have exchanges during each other's festi-
vals. However, there is no dialogue, let alone an attempt to
evangelize. That is characteristic: the Christians try to
defend themselves, to retain their believers[...]. We have no
opening towards the Islam."145


     In general, many Christians support the present govern-
ment for two reasons:146 the government is dominated by a mino-
rity and the secular (nationalist) ideology of the government.
Many Christians regard both as a dam against the influence of
Sunni Muslims.147 They fear a deterioration of their situation
if the influence of the Sunni Muslims increases. Mgr. Hafouri,

     142
           Horner (1989), p.87
     143
         Interviews with several foreign and Syrian observers
and Valognes (1994), p.729.
     144
           Open Doors (1996a), p.21 and Hafouri (1995), p. 5.
     145
        "We hebben goede contacten met de leiders van de mos-
lims. We houden uitwisselingen met elkaars feesten. Maar er is
geen dialoog, laat staan een poging tot evangelisatie. Dat is
kenmerkend: de christenen proberen zich te verdedigen, hun
gelovigen te behouden[...]. We hebben geen opening naar de
islam." (Hermans (1991), p.37).
     146
           Sicking (1989), p.78
     147
        Many Christians from several denominations stated to me
that they were thankful to this government for "subjugating the
Muslims". The same phenomenom is noted by W. de Smet (see
appendix C) during an interview and Ploquin (1996), p.10.


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                                      48
                    St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

the   Syrian    Catholic   archbishop       in   Hassake,       stated   that   the
Sunni    Muslims  "are   closely  watched   by  the   army.[...]
Nonetheless the fire is always smouldering and it only takes a
small breeze to inflame it."148
      The relationship between the Christians and the government
differs between the denominations. The government has somewhat
restrained relations with the Armenian churches because these
churches want to maintain their language and culture.149 The
government restricted the education in the Armenian language,
but the church services are often still in Armenian and in the
Christian quarters in Aleppo many shops have there name both in
Armenian and Arabic or just in Armenian. There are also
publications in Armenian.
     The Eastern Orthodox and Catholic (Melkite) Churches have
better relations with the government because they are comple-
tely Arabic in language and culture and adhere to the baathist
doctrine of Arab nationalism and secularism. Nonetheless, the
attempts of the government to gain influence in the orthodox
hierarchy has caused some friction.150
     The other Christian communities are very small. The
government is often a little suspicious of their relations with
the West and of their attitude towards the Syrian policies in


      148
            "sont sévèrement surveillés par l'armée.[...] N'empêche
que le feu est toujours sous la cendre, et il suffit d'un petit
coup de vent pour que ça flambe." Hafouri (1995), p.5.
      149
        Valognes (1994), p.722-723 and Hermans (1991) in which
 mgr. Georges Tayroyan (vicar of the Armenian Catholic patri-
arch) states that, since the Syrian (i.e. Syrian Orthodox and
Catholic) and Chaldean Christians have lost their language, "we
are almost the only ones who preserve our language on a large
scale" ("wij zijn haast de enigen die onze taal op grote schaal
bewaren.") (p.41).
      150
            Valognes (1994), 720-721


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                                       49
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Lebanon (Syria supports certain Muslim factions against the
Christian factions).151 Many Christians, on their turn, do not
want to affiliate themselves too closely with this government
because they are afraid of the reaction of the Sunni Muslims in
case this regime should disappear. A second reason is that even
if they aligned themselves with this regime they would never be
able to reach the inner circle of power.152
     The relation between Christians and the outside world also
differs between the various denominations. The Orthodox
Churches have the least contacts with the West. Often their
only contacts are with their communities that emigrated to the
Americas, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. These communities
make payments to their Churches in Syria and sometimes Syrian
clergymen visit the communities outside of Syria.153
     The Catholics have relations with various international
Catholic organisations and receive funds and aid (e.g to built
churches).154 The Catholics also have contacts through the Apos-
tolic Nunciature155 in Damascus and with France.156
     A recent visitor to Syria noted that the "Protestant
churches are often western-orientated and are used to foreign
aid".157 They have contacts with numerous Western Protestant
     151
        Valognes (1994), p.732. At the time of their interven-
tion the Syrians supported Christian factions, but during the
war they changed sides several times. At present they support
several Muslim factions.
     152
           Valognes (1994), p.731
     153
           Valognes (1994), p.719, 722
     154
        Interview with an employee of the Middle East Council
of Churches in Syria
     155
           This is the Embassy of the Vatican
     156
           Valognes (1994), p.719, 721
     157
           Open Doors (1996a), p.26


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                                      50
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

organisations. The government also suspects them of having ties
with Western embassies.158




             §2.2 Questionnaire on the freedom of religion159
* 1A
       The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Article
35 reads:
 1. The liberty of religion                  is   guaranteed     and   the   state
     respects all religions,160
 2. The state gives the right to practise freely all religious
     rites on the condition that this does not violate public
     order.161

* 1B
     The constitution is partly based on the sharica. Article
3(2) reads: Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of law in
Syria.162 In practice, however, this statement must be construed
restrictively. The principles of the sharica are only in force
in matters of personal status.163 For Christians there are sepa-
       158
             Valognes (1994), p.726
       159
        In this paragraph I will only give the number of the
question and then answer it; for the questions see Appendix A
       160
        "La liberté de croyance est garantie et l'État respecte
toutes les religions" (Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.107)
       161
        "L'État garantit la libre practique de tous les cultes
religieux à condition que cela ne viole pas l'ordre public"
(ibid.)
       162
        Valognes (1994), p. 715; Kelidar (1974), p.18 and Amin
(1985), p.359
       163
             Amin (1985), p.363 and Nasir (1990), p.32-33


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                                        51
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

rate personal status courts where their own laws are applied.
The Protestants and Catholics have one court each. The Orthodox
denominations have their own courts.164

* 1C
     Everyone has the right to go to court if they believe
their freedom is violated and - theoretically - everyone should
get a fair trial.165 However, in practice the judicial system in
Syria is not fair and uncorrupted at all. No Syrian can ever
win a case against the army, police or security forces. If a
case is non-controversial, courts are normally free of
government coercion. Nonetheless, it has become more prevalent
to bribe the judges. There are several other exam-  ples of
security officers being bribed to influence the outcome of
court cases.166

* 1D
     All religions must register with the government.167 Concer-
ning the Christians, the following denominations are recogni-
sed: the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church,
the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Assyrian Church, the Melkite
Church, the Maronite Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the
Syrian Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Chaldean
Catholic      Church,   the   Armenian       Evangelical     Church,   churches

       164
         Piecuch (1989), p.3; Fisher (1995a), p.904; Valognes
(1994), p.715 and Nasir (1990), p.33.
       165
             This section is based on USSD (1995a), 1e
       166
         I heard several examples during the interviews. One
Catholic leader told me the court cases between Christians over
church buildings is usually won by the party who is able to
assure itself the support of the security services.
       167
             This section is based on interviews and personal obser-
vations.


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                                        52
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

belonging      to   the   National    Evangelical       Synod    of   Syria   and
Lebanon, churches belonging to the Christian and Mission- ary
Alliance (the so-called Alliance Churches), the Church of the
Nazarene and the Baptist Churches.
     At present, at the request of some Orthodox and Catholic
denominations who have lost many members to the Protestant
churches and are afraid of losing more members to other "wes-
tern sects", the government does not recognise new denomina-
tions any more. Subsequently, the Seventh-Day Adventists168 and
the Syrian Evangelical Church169 failed to acquire recognition.

* 2A
     The state has a neutral attitude towards the Christian
religion. Christians can do whatever they want, as long as they
do not disturb the public opinion or the public order. As a
minority     community the Christians are sometimes favoured as far
as jobs      inside the government are concerned (see §2.1.1 and
question     2C).
     The     state has a negative attitude towards the relations-
hips between some churches and the outside world, especially
between Protestant Churches and the West and between the
Maronites and their co-religionists in Lebanon.
     The government, which is a fervent adherent of Arab natio-
nalism, also has a negative attitude towards the desire of some
churches to preserve their Non-Arab language and culture (the
Armenian Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants their Armenian
culture).
     The Christians are expected to voice their support of the


       168
             USSD (1995a), 2c
       169
        This is a very small denomination which is historically
closely linked with the Armenian Evangelical Church. In Syria
they belong to the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches.


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                                        53
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

regime.170 During important religious or national festivals the
Church leaders are obliged to preach political                   sermons in which
they state their support of the regime.171 The                   Eastern Orthodox
(the largest denomination) and the Catholic                       Churches (under
protection of the Apostolic Nunciature) are                      able to keep a
greater distance from the government compared to the smaller
churches. For instance, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch refused
to deliver a political sermon during the 25th anniver-sary of
the Corrective Movement (Asad's coup) in November 1995.172
     Like Muslim leaders, many Christian leaders have access to
the president (by telephone and by regular visits). Some
smaller denominations do not have this access (e.g. the
Assyrian patriarch).173 There is one Protestant leader who
represents all the Protestant denominations towards the go-
vernment. This is the pastor of the National Evangelical Church
in Damascus (at present rev. Adeeb Awad).174

* 2B
       Churches are severely monitored by the security forces.175
The    security    forces    have   a   special     section       concerned   with
       170
        Several interviews with leaders of the different deno-
minations.
       171
         They often give two sermons on these occasions: one
political sermon and one pastoral sermon.
       172
             Several interviews with church leaders.
       173
        Interview with Dr. H. Teule. The Assyrians are a rela-
tively small community, mainly consisting of foreigners.
       174
              Interviews    with    several    observants         and   protestant
leaders.

       175
        This section is based on interviews with several church
leaders and my personal experience. See also Open Doors
(1996a), p.24.


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                                        54
                        St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Christians.       All    church     services      are    attended   by   security
informants. Sometimes pastors have to submit a summary of their
sermon. Contacts with foreigners usually have to be reported to
the government. One foreigner who worked in Syria with the
churches (on a church visa) said that "he did not trust anyone
of the pastors, not even the one that issued him the visa!
[...] because [he] suspect[ed] that all of them were informing
the Mukhabarat [secret police]".176
     The Protestant leaders are regularly visited by members of
the security services to report on - and account for - their
activities and those of their church members.177




* 2C
     There are some Christians in high positions in the admi-
nistration and the army and there are also Christian judges.178
However, all the key security positions are occupied by Alawis.
The Christians are not favoured as a group regarding higher
post (see also §2.1.1).
     Some people also note a decrease of the number of
Christians in the government. The government aspires a greater
involvement of the Sunni Muslims in the administration. The
increase of Sunni representation is not at the expense of the
Alawis but of other minorities, like the Christians.179
       176
             Open Doors (1995)
       177
        During my interviews with Protestant leaders several of
these visits occurred.
       178
             Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.150,155
       179
             Hopwood (1988), p.97; Van Dam (1979), p.101 and inter-
views


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                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)


* 3A
     All churches that are recognised are free to gather as a
church (see also question 3B and 3E).


* 3B
     In order to get permission to build a church Christians
have to meet two requirements: they must belong to one of the
recognised denominations and they must have a congregation (for
the new church) of at least 15 members. If these two conditions
are satisfied the permission is granted.180
     In villages with a Muslim majority the governments
consults the Muslim community before giving permission. If the
Muslims number approximately 75% or more they often ask the
government to withhold a permission. The government usually
honours this Muslim request.181
     Protestants often have difficulties finding someone
willing to sell land when they want to build a church in
Orthodox or Catholic villages because most of their members
originate from these two churches.182


* 3C
       The churches are free to elect their own leaders without
the government interfering.183

* 3D

       180
          Several        interviews          with   leaders      of   different
denominations.
       181
        Interview with a Protestant leader who regularly visits
the villages.
       182
             Protestant leaders gave me several examples.
       183
             Interviews and Open Doors (1996a), p.24.


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                                        56
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

       Many church leaders complain that they have to send their
people abroad for theological training.184 Churches are free to
train their leaders for sunday school and youth work. However,
only one church provides theological training for its priests
and pastors in Syria: the Syrian Orthodox Church, which has a
Seminary in Damascus. The other denominations do not obtain
permission to open a theological seminary.185
     In Syria a TEE- programm (Theological Education by
Extension) exists.186 In this program theological knowledge is
taught in such a way that the student is able to teach the same
course to others after he has completed the course. However,
this is not a complete theological education for pastors.
     The TEE-programm mainly aims at Protestants (although some
Christians of other denominations do participate).187 At present
the main participants are the Presbyterian Church and the Alli-
ance Church. In the future the Armenian Evangelical Church, the
Church of the Nazarene and the Baptist Churches will
participate as well.188


* 3E
     Christians are free to organise activities in their
churches, as long as these have nothing to do with politics.189

       184
          Interviews  with   several Orthodox, Catholic and
Protestant church leaders; Open Doors (1995), p.20 and Open
Doors (1996a), p.22, 24, 25.
       185
        Interview with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant church
leaders and Open Doors (1996a), p.22, 24.
       186
         Interviews with leaders and participants; Open Doors
(1995), p.20 and Open Doors (1996a), p.25.
       187
        For instance in Hassake two Syrian Orthodox Christians
participate (Open Doors (1996a), p.18).
       188
             Open Doors (1995), p.20
       189
             Interviews; Open Doors (1996a), p.24 ; Hermans (1991),

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                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

All    activities    are   monitored         by   the   security   police   (see
question 2B).
     Although evangelistic activities are prohibited if Muslims
are involved (see question 4B), I know of at least two
evangelistic activities inside church buildings which were
allowed and where Muslims were present.190 The activities were
inside church buildings, but the doors were wide open and
banners with announcements were outside the building.


* 3F
     Churches are allowed to maintain links with co-religio-
nists abroad, although the government is suspicious of such
links (see question 2A). They are also free to receive foreign
aid but every kind of outside support requires the approval of
the government. Receiving funds is more difficult than recei-
ving goods (e.g. literature).
     Especially the Catholics and the Protestants receive
foreign aid from respectively Catholic and Protestants organi-
sations. The Orthodox Churches sometimes receive financial
support from their communities in the West (see also §2.1.2).191



* 3G
      During the past few years the government expelled several
foreign Christians who worked in Syria on a church visa. At
present there are only a few left: the Catholics have some
personal left (most of them have been living in Syria for


p.38 and USSD (1995a), 2c
       190
             Interviews with participants and Open Doors (1995),
p.18
       191
             Interviews, Open Doors (1996a), p.24 and USSD (1995a),
2c


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                                        58
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

decennia), the Presbyterians have one Australian family and the
Syrian Orthodox have one Canadian teacher at their seminary.192
     Missionaries193 are not allowed in Syria. Several have
recently been expelled from Syria.194


* 4A
     The publication of religious material is subject to the
same censorship as secular material, i.e. censors forbid
material that is "critical of the government, offensive to any
of Syria's religious groups, too graphic in its description of
sex, unfavourable to the Arab cause in the Middle East con-
flict, or partial to sectarism".195
     The Bible is freely available and can be imported. Other
religious material is not widely available.196 These materials
are censored when they are imported. Some denominations claim
they have difficulties importing religious material.197 The
Christian material at the annual book fair in Damascus is also
censored (except for the Bible).
     There are two shops of the Syrian Bible Society, two
Family Bookshops          (bookshops of the Middle East Council of
Churches) and a           few other bookshops which sell Christian
publications.198
       192
         Interviews with several church leaders , several of
these foreign employees and Open Doors (1995), p.12
       193
        In the Protestant meaning of the word: people who enter
a country with the purpose of evangelizing.
       194
             Interviews

       195
             USSD (1995a), 2a
       196
             Open Doors (1996a), p.25 and Piecuch (1989), p.3.
       197
             Valognes (1994), p.720
       198
             Interviews and Open Doors (1996a), p.25


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                                        59
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

       One leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church complained that
"for everything [we] want to publish, [we] have to get permis-
sion from the government, which is not easy."199 No other com-
plaints are known to me.


* 4B
     Christians need permission for outdoor activities. For
processions permits are usually granted (all major Christian
holidays are officially observed by the government).200
     For evangelistic activities permits are issued if             the
activities take place in Christian quarters and under              the
auspices of a recognized church. Although there is no              law
against proselytizing Muslims, in practise the government does
prohibit this.201 Anyone who is seen evangelizing Muslims will
be arrested.
     For most other activities permits are often not granted
(e.g. educational activities).202


* 4C
     None of the churches have their own radio or television
program. During Christmas and Easter there are Christian
programs on radio and television. The Christians have asked for
more Christian programs but this has been denied.203

       199
             Interview
       200
             USSD (1993), p.1091 and Valognes (1994), p.717.
       201
         Interviews and USSD (1995a), 2c The government often
uses a law that forbids "stirring up strife between the diffe-
rent communities" to withhold a permit.
       202
        Several interviews with people of different denominati-
ons. See also Hermans (1991) where the Melkite Patriarch
complains about this matter (p.38).
       203
             Hermans (1991), p.38 and Piecuch (1989), p.3.


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                                        60
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)


     Some churches publish their own magazines: the Melkite
Church publishes several (amongst them one in French: Le
Lien)204 and the Syrian Orthodox publish one.205


* 4D
     Prior to the latter half of the sixties most denominations
had their own schools. However, in this period the government
forced the schools to accept government appointed co-
principals, to follow a curriculum designed by the Ministry of
Education (which weakened the Christian identity of the
schools), to provide Islamic religious instruction for Muslim
pupils and to avoid the use of any names for schools that would
identify them with a particular church. The Catholic Churches
decided to close their schools (which were nationalised by the
government), the Orthodox and Protestant Churches decided to
adjust to the new rules.206
     Starting in the late eighties the government started to
return some of the schools to the Orthodox and Protestant Chur-
ches. At present there are approximately forty Christian
schools:207 The Eastern Orthodox have two large colleges (one in
Damascus and one in Aleppo),208 the Syrian Orthodox Church has a
few primary schools, the Syrian Catholic Church also has a few
primary schools and one college (in Hassakeh),209 the Melkite
       204
             Valognes (1994), p.721
       205
             Valognes (1994), p.722
       206
        Interviews; Horner (1989), p.87; Picchi (1991), p.8-10;
Valognes (1994), p.718; Hermans (1991), p.37 and Open Doors
(1995), p.14-15
       207
             Valognes (1994), p.718
       208
             Valognes (1994), p.720
       209
             Valognes (1994), p.722


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                                        61
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Church has at least four schools,210 the Armenian Orthodox has
eight primary schools and two colleges, the Armenian Catholics
have three schools and two colleges211 and the Latin-rite Catho-
lics have at least one school.212 All the churches experience
great difficulties in opening new schools.213


* 4E
     As for other activities churches have to apply for permis-
sion in order to engage in social work. Normally, this permis-
sion is granted. However, there are some reports of withholding
permissions.214
     In the mid-sixties the government nationalised services
that were rendered by the churches (see also question 4D). The
charitable institutions of the churches were not nationalised
but remained with the churches.215
     At present, the following Churches are engaged in social
work: Eastern Orthodox,216 Melkite,217 Maronites,218 Latin-Rite
Catholics219 and Protestants.220

       210
             Valognes (1994), p.721
       211
             Valognes (1994), p.724
       212
             Valognes (1994), p.725
       213
             Interviews with church leaders and Open Doors (1996a),
p.22
       214
        Interviews and Open Doors (1996a), p.22 (both sources
are Eastern Orthodox leaders).
       215
             Interviews
       216
             Valognes (1994), p.720
       217
             Valognes (1994), p.721
       218
             Valognes (1994), p.725
       219
        They have their own welfare organisation (al-Kalimat
Social Work) which is affiliated with Caritas International)

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                                        62
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)




* 4F
     Christian children are not forced to attend Islamic
education. Religious education is compulsory at the state
schools. A committee of Christians makes the curriculum. First
the state has to approve it after which the government prints
and distributes it for free.221


* 5A
     Christians are not physically persecuted because of their
faith.


* 5B
       Christians are not legally persecuted because of their
faith.


* 5C
       Some people I interviewed mentioned that                  students at the
university are sometimes discriminated against by Muslim tea-
chers, in a sense that it has become more difficult for them to
pass exams. Apart from these statements I have found no indi-
cations that point to discrimination against Christians at
schools.


* 5D
       Personally, I have found no evidence of                   Christians being


(Horner (1989), 63-64). See also Rance (1990b), p.321-324
       220
         At least one hospital is directly related to the
National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (Horner (1989),
p.77).
       221
             Hermans (1991), p.38 and Rance (1990b), p.321


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persecuted at their work.222


* 5E
        In matters of family law the sharica is applied in Syri-
a.223   This means that a Muslim man is allowed to marry a Chris-
tian woman. In this case the woman is allowed to remain Chris-
tian but the children will be Muslim. However, a Christian man
is not allowed to marry a Muslim woman (and a Muslim woman is
not allowed to become a Christian, see question 5G). Many men
therefore convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim woman.224
     One way around this law is to marry in a foreign country
and then return to Syria. This marriage will be valid in Syria.
The rare instances this has happened the                          marriage   was
contracted either in Lebanon or in Cyprus.225

* 5F
     Syrians are free to travel inside Syria, except for
security areas (i.e. around the Golan Heights).
     Syrians are required to have a government permit to travel
abroad (except for travelling to Lebanon).226 The government

        222
        However Open Doors states in an unpublished report in
1995 (not the one mentioned in the bibliography) that perse-
cution does occur. Also, Sicking (1989) writes about "interes-
ting jobs, that are often reserved preferably for Muslims"
("emplois intéressants, réservés souvent en priorité aux
musulmans") (p.77).
        223
              Nasir (1990), p.69-70
        224
        According to several church leaders this is a major
problem for the churches (interviews and Open Doors (1996a),
p.23).
        225
        Interview with an Orthodox and a Catholic church leader
and Open Doors (1996a), p.23.
        226
         Syria - unofficially - regards Lebanon as part of
Greater Syria and has great influence in Lebanon as a result of
the presence of approximately 30,000 Syrian soldiers in Leba-

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refuses permissions to anyone thought likely to express views
contrary to its policies. However, I never heard of Christian
leaders being denied a permit. On the contrary I heard of many
Christian leaders who had visited foreign countries.227 When
they return to Syria they are "systematically interrogated" by
the security services.228

* 5G
       There is no law which prohibits conversion from Islam to
Christianity, but "in practise the government discourages such
activities."229. It is also impossible for a Muslim to change
his religious registration with the government.
     The government registers the religion of its citizens.
This registration does not influence daily life to a large
extent. However, it is important in some cases, e.g. matters
governed by family law. When a Muslim woman becomes a Christian
she is unable to marry a Christian man and since she usually
does not want to marry a Muslim man she has to remain unmarried
for the rest of her life (in Syria). A Muslim man who converts
to Christianity is allowed to marry a Christian woman but their
children will always be registered as Muslims. Also, a Muslim
who converted to Christianity will be buried in a Muslim
cemetery. When a Christian converts to Islam he has no
difficulties in getting his registration changed.230



non. Syrians therefore need no visa nor a passport to visit
Lebanon.
       227
             USSD (1995a), 2d and interviews
       228
             Valognes (1994), p.717
       229
             UNHCR (1993a), p.1-2
       230
             Interviews


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* 5H
     The treatment of a Muslim convert to Christianity by the
government varies. Sometimes the convert is questioned several
times by the security police. During this questioning the
convert is sometimes put under pressure in order to persuade
the convert to return to Islam. There are cases in which a
convert was put in prison (the time in prison ranging from a
few days to a few months). However, converts are regularly left
in peace by the government.
     The family usually puts pressure on a convert to return to
Islam. If the convert refuses he is often ostracized by his
family. In some cases the family even killed the convert. The
government did not persecute the killers because it considered
this incident an internal family matter.
     I learned of some cases in which converts "lost their jobs
or [...] experienced problems in schooling/studying."231

* 5I
       Christians    are   not   put    under    pressure        to change their
religion.


* 5J
       The    constitution    states     that   the    state      guarantees   the
                                                          232
principle of equality among all citizens.      The only legal
discrimination is that the constitution states that the presi-
dent must be a Muslim.233

       231
             Interviews with Protestants and Open Doors (1995), p.16
and 21
       232
         USSD (1993), p.1093; USSD (1995a), 5;                       Aldeeb    Abu-
Sahlieh (1994), p.93 and Valognes (1994), p.715
       233
         In the original version of the constitution of 1973
this statement was omitted and no reference was made to Islam
in the constitution. After widespread opposition and rioting
the constitution was changed and this requirement was adopted

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* 6A
     The church has not been seriously weakened by persecution
in this country.
     However the church has been seriously weakened by emigra-
tion.234 The emigration is caused by the bad economic situation,
unemployment and better education in the receiving countries,
but also by fear for the future. Many Christians fear the Sunni
Muslims will come to power after Asad's death and they fear
this will lead to their persecution.235

                               §2.3 Analysis
     The answers to the questionnaire show that Christians have
a high degree of religious freedom in Syria.236 The restrictions
on the religious liberty of Christians are not caused by a
negative attitude of the government towards Christianity per
sé, but either by the bad general human rights situation237 or
by the desire of the government not to offend or upset the
Muslim majority.

(Abdallah (1983), p.111).
       234
             Valognes (1994), p.714; Horner (1989), p.3 and MECC
(1994)
       235
        Interviews with church leaders and Christians who are
engaged in trying to stop the emigration; Open Doors (1996a),
p.22 and MECC (1994), p.15. The Muslim Brothers try to convince
the religious minorities that if they come to power no
religious minority will be persecuted (Abdallah (1983), p.140-
141)
       236
        Most people agree that Syria is the second-best place
to live for a Christian in the Middle East (Lebanon is the best
place).
       237
        Valognes (1994) notes that one cannot speak of religi-
ous liberty for Christians, considering the general human
rights situation in Syria, but one should speak about the
absence of religious discrimination (p.717).


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     The legal status of Christians is positive: the constitu-
tion guarantees freedom of religion, Christians are legally
equal to Muslims, the sharica is only applied to matters of
personal status (and Christians have their own courts with
their own laws regarding these matters) and most churches are
legally recognized as religious institutions. Syria is one of
the few Middle Eastern countries of which the constitution does
not state that Islam is the religion of the state, in spite of
the wide-scale riots and demonstrations at the time of the
promulgation of the constitution because of this omission.
     The authorities do not have a negative attitude towards
Christianity. Nonetheless, some of the rights of Christians are
being violated by government bodies. First, they are severely
monitored by the security services. However, this monitoring is
not specifically aimed against Christians but it is caused by
the general human rights situation: everyone in Syria is being
monitored. Muslims and their institutions are under even
stricter state control,238 e.g. the Muslim clergy is working for
and paid by the government. This assures the government of a
large influence on their behaviour.
     Second, they do not always have the opportunity to a fair
trial when their religious freedom is being violated. Again
this is caused by the general human rights situation: there is
no independent judiciary in Syria - but the state, and especi-
ally the security services - sometimes intervene in the law-
suits. Also, the judiciary is not free from corruption.
     Third,   Christians  are   generally   excluded  from  key
positions in the government and the army. This is caused by the
fact that the regime is dominated by Alawis who often rely on
co-religionists. Christians         can    only    occupy      less   important
posts in the government.

     238
           Valognes (1994), p.728-729 and Open Doors (1996a), p.23


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                                      68
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     Christians have a large amount of freedom regarding the
construction of churches, the election of their leaders and the
conduct during meetings in their churches. The only restriction
concerning the construction of churches is the government's
desire not to offend or upset the Muslims.239 The local Muslim
leaders are therefore consulted when Christians want to build a
church in a predominantly Muslim area.
     Other restrictions concerning the church organisation are
the prohibition of opening seminaries in Syria (except for the
Syrian Orthodox Church) and the strict monitoring of the rela-
tions with co-religionists abroad. Receiving foreign aid is
possible, but employing foreign Christians is much more
difficult. Recently, many foreign Christians were expelled and
only a handful are left. The relationships between Muslims and
their co-religionists abroad are likewise closely monitored.
     The activities of Christians in society are, again,
limited by the general human rights situation and the govern-
ment's desire not to offend Muslims. The general human rights
situation causes censorship to the production and distribution
of all literature (including Christian literature) and puts
restrictions on the access to the national media: only the
government has access to the national media. Nonetheless some
churches do have their own magazines.
     The government's desire to control also caused state
intervention in Christian education in the late 1960's.
Education should be conducted along the Baathist doctrine:
weakening the importance of religious identities and Western
orientation and emphasizing the common Syrian Arab identity.

     239
        A powerful example of this desire is the destruction of
churches in Hama in 1982: after the rebellion of the Muslim
Brotherhood in Hama the army destroyed several mosques. In
order not to be regarded as favouring Christians, several
churches were also destroyed (interviews with Christians in
Hama and Valognes (1994), p.729).


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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     Christians need permission to engage in charitable work.
Sometimes this permission is refused in order not to offend the
Muslims. The government does not allow the Muslims to become
too active in charitable work (they fear these activities would
gain support for the Muslim Brotherhood like it did in e.g.
Egypt, the Westbank and the Gaza strip).
     The situation of individual Christians is fairly positive
in Syria. There is little persecution: there are some reports
on discrimination at the university and on physical harassment
by Kurds in the Jazira (because they want to buy Christians'
land, not for religious motives). The only real discrimination
concerns marriage (a Christian man is prohibited to marry a
Muslim woman, whereas a Muslim man is allowed to marry a
Christian woman) and converts (a Muslim who converts to Chris-
tianity cannot register his conversion with the authorities,
whereas a Christian who converts to Islam can register his
conversion).
     The authorities discourage conversions from Islam to
Christianity because this may cause communal unrest. Therefore
converts are sometimes harassed by the authorities in order to
persuade them to return to Islam. If the family of a convert
persecutes him, the government will not intervene or punish the
perpetrators.




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                                     70
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

                           Chapter 3: Libya


     This chapter deals with the human rights situation of
Christians in Libya.240 The first paragraph gives some relevant
general background information. In the second paragraph the
question posed in the introduction will be dealt with on the
basis of the questionnaire on the freedom of religion (see
appendix A). In the third paragraph the data of §3.1 and §3.2
will be analyzed.


             §3.1.1 General background information
     On 1 September 1969 a military coup brought col. Qadhafi
to power in Libya. A principal force underlying the regime's
policies was Arab nationalism. Consequently, the regime
strictly enforced the law that businesses operating in Libya
should be controlled by Libyans. Also the British and American
military bases were removed from Libya, many European and
American specialists (managers, doctors, teachers, technicians,
etc) were replaced by Arabs, the property of all Jews and
Italians living in Libya was sequestered by the government
(including all the property of the Roman Catholic Church) and
distribution   facilities   of  some   oil   companies   were


     240
         This chapter is based on literature and several inter-
views. Most literature is listed in the bibliography (I also
used a few reliable, confidential reports and several letters
written by Christians in Libya (both Libyan and expatriate)
which I cannot quote). For the interviews see appendix C. For
the sake of the personal safety of the people I interviewed I
do not quote them by name.
      Some material has been derived from sources of the World
Islamic Call Society (WICS). This society was founded by the
Libyan government in 1972. It is the "outlet for state-
sanctioned religion as well as a tool for exporting the Libyan
revolution abroad" (USSD (1995b), 2c). Therefore I take
opinions stated by the WICS to be the opinions of the govern-
ment.


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                                     71
                      St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

nationalized.241 Prior to 1970 most Christians in Libya were
Westerners who worked in Libya. The policies of the new
government therefore resulted in a large decrease of the number
of Christians.
     The new regime was also anti-imperialistic. The close ties
of the former regime with the West were abandoned in favour of
close ties with the Arab world.242 Qadhafi often equates
Christians    with  the   West  and   with   imperialism   and
            243
colonialism.
     In    1973   Qadhafi  announced  his  Third  International
       244
Theory.     However, this theory was not fully elaborated until
the publications of the three volumes of the Green Book: volume
I "The Solution of the Problem of Democracy" (1976), volume II
"The Solution of the Economic Problem" (1978) and volume III
"The Social Basis of the Third International Theory" (1979).
This theory is a combination of Arab nationalism, anti-
imperialism, Islam (or at least Qadhafi's conception of the
Islam)245, socialism and ideas about direct democracy as it was
applied in ancient Greek city-states like Athens.
     In order to understand Qadhafi's view of Christianity and
Islam one has to understand his view of religion in general.
     241
           Fisher (1995b), p.712
     242
           Op. cit.
     243
        Sometimes when he is talking about Israel and the West
he uses the words Jews for Israel and Christians for the West
(e.g. WICS (1985), p.69-70. In May 1985 Qadhafi stated in
Rwanda: "Christians are intruders in Africa and are agents of
colonialism" (quoted in: Schlossberg (1991), p.35-36). In 1980
he told a Lebanese newspaper (As-Safir) that Arab Christians
"represent an European spirit in a body which is Arab" (quoted
in: Open Doors (1993), p.7 and Bearman (1986), p.161).
     244
        Bearman (1986), p.150. For an overview of this theory
see Kooij (1980), p.3-20).
     245
           See Anderson (1983) and Kooij (1980).


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According to Qadhafi "any nation is soul and body like any
creature or living being. The body is nationalism and the soul
is religion[...]if we want this creature to remain alive, it
should live with both soul and body together and be insepa-
 rable".246


     In the Green Book Qadhafi does not mention Islam. In an
interview Qadhafi stated: "The Third International Theory is
based on religion and nationalism - any religion and any
nationalism....We do not present Islam as a religion in the
Third Theory. For if we do so, we will be excluding from the
Third Theory all the Non-Muslims, something which we evidently
do not want."247
     However, he believes "the natural rule [is] that each
nation has one religion".248 According to Qadhafi the religion
for the "Arab nation" is Islam: "It is an error to be Arab and
Christian, because the religion of Arab nationalism is Islam.
If they are authentic Arabs, they (the Christians) have to
embrace the Islamic faith".249
     Qadhafi's view of Christianity seems inconsistent. He
believes that an Arab should be Muslim and that Arab Christians

     246
           Quoted in: WICS (1985), p.38-39
     247
           Quoted in Anderson (1983), p.142
     248
        Harris (1986), p.59 and in the Lebanese newspaper As-
Safir Qadhafi stated that "religious pluralism in one and the
same nation constitutes an abnormal situation" ("le pluralisme
religieux au sein d'une même nation constitue une situation
anormale", Rance (1990a), p.170). See also Qadhafi (n.d.), p.8.
     249
        "Il est aberrant d'être arab et chrétien, la religion
du nationalism arabe étant l'islam. S'ils sont authentiquement
arabes, ils (les chrétiens) doivent embrasser la foi islamique"
(Quoted in: Rance (1990a), p.170). See also WICS (1985), p.38-
39 and Rance (1990a), p.172 where Qadhafi is quoted on other
occasions where he made similar statements.


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                                      73
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

should     convert   to    Islam.     At     the   same   time   he   considers
differences between Jews, Christians and Muslims non-existent:
Jews and Christians are Muslims.250 He states that Muslims are
the followers of all the monotheistic religions that are
mentioned in the Quran (not just followers of Muhammad) and
that all monotheists are       Muslims.251
     This inconsistency        is a result of Qadhafi's definition of
a Christian. According         to him Christians "believe everything
what Muhammad believes         (and the latter believes in all the
prophets that preceded his coming) and [...] they believe in
Muhammad as the last prophet".252 In Islamic terms recognizing
Muhammad as a prophet means converting to Islam.253 So Qadhafi
states that there are no differences between Christians and
Muslims, but he uses a strange definition of Christians stating
that they should recognize that they are, in fact, Muslims.
     Many Muslims consider the Third International Theory to be
heretical. Qadhafi has long been in conflict with the religious
establishment and by far the largest threat to his regime comes
from Islamic opposition groups.254 Qadhafi reacted strongly
     250
         Kooij (1980), p.5. See also Bianco (1974), p.183-187
for Qadhafi's view on religion.
     251
           Bianco (1974), p.184
     252
        "croient à tout ce à quoi croit Mohammed (et ce dernier
croit à tous les Prophètes qui ont précédé sa venue), et [...]
ils croient à Mohammed en tant que dernier des Prophètes"
(Bianco (1974), p.185). See also Hager (1985), p.75. During an
interview an imam of the World Islamic Call Society subscribed
to the same view: true Christians are Christians who follow the
true teachings of Christianity. These are not found in the
Bible but in the Quran.
     253
        Davis (1987), p.52-54. The same author also describes
how the Muslim delegation tried to persuade the Christian
delegation to recognise Muhammad as a prophet during the
interreligious dialogue conference in Tripoli in 1976(see also
Borrmans (1976), p.155).
     254
           Harris (1986), p.48 and Africa Confidential, Vol. 36 No

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                                        74
                      St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

against the opposition from the religious establish-              ment.
After attacks in newspapers in early 1978, the people's
committees were ordered to seize those mosques exhibiting
"paganist tendencies" and to cast out "heretical imams".255
Most political detainees are reportedly associated with banned
Islamic groups256 and there are reports on harassment by
security forces for having a beard (pious Muslims often have a
beard).257
     The treatment of the Islamic opposition is indicative of
the sad state of the general human rights situation in Libya.
In Libya most human rights are "tightly restricted".258 There
are no effective rights to freedom of speech, to peaceful
association or assembly or the formation of trade unions.
Citizens do not have the right to a fair trial, to be represen-
ted by a legal council, to be secure in their homes, to privacy
or to own private property. Opposition - both inside and
outside Libya - is subject to intimidation and assassination.


                §3.1.2 Background on Christians
     Officially, all Libyans are Muslims. Officiously there are
several Libyan Christians, most of whom are living in Southern
Europe.259 In Libya the expatriate Christians number between

16 (August 4, 1995), p.4. Every now and then there are reports
of fighting between Islamic groups and Libyan security forces
in Libya (e.g. al-Hayat, July 11, 1995 and Middle East Times
July 16-22, 1995).
     255
           Harris (1986), p.49
     256
           USSD (1995b), 2c
     257
           Op. cit.
     258
        USSD (1995b), introduction. This paragraph is based on
this publication.
     259
        Horner (1989), p.90. No exact numbers are known, but
the number does not exceed a few tens (confidential reports and

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                                         75
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

160,000 and 180,000,260 mainly Egyptians, Africans, Westerners
and Asians.
     The largest denomination are the Coptic Orthodox Christi-
ans (approximately 120,000), followed by the Roman Catholics
(between 30,000 and 50,000). The Protestants number approxima-
tely 10,000. There is also a small Eastern Orthodox community.
     There are two Roman Catholic Churches: the St. Francis (in
Tripoli) and the Maria Immacolata (in Benghazi). In these
churches several Roman Catholic parishes are meeting (according
to language groups). In Tripoli there is an Arab, a French, an
English, a Maltese, an Italian, a Korean and a Polish
community. In Benghazi there is a Korean, an Italian, an
English-speaking, an Arab and a Polish community.
     Besides in churches there are also nuns and friars working
in hospitals, orphanages and the like in Tripoli, Suani, Sebha,
Benghazi, Al Harj, Messah, Beida, Derna and Tobruk.261
     Both the Coptic Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox have a
church in Tripoli and one in Benghazi.
     There is only one Protestant church building: the Union
Church in Tripoli. In this building services are conducted by
the Anglican Church, the Union Church (attended by English,
Canadian, Asian and African Christians), the Tripoli Christian
Fellowship International (this multinational church is the
largest Protestant church in Tripoli), and several uni-national
groups (mainly Pakistani and Indian groups). In Tripoli there
is also a Korean Church and a second Anglican Church (located
in a private house).
     In Benghazi there are several Protestant and Evangelical

interviews).
     260
           Interviews and Johnstone (1993), p.355
     261
         See the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical                 Directory   of
Tripoli and Benghazi (Libya), 1991


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                                      76
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Churches that conduct services in the Maria Immacolata Catholic
Church. Other groups meet in private homes. Throughout Libya
there are approximately 25 Korean Churches and several other
churches that meet at company compounds.


     The relationships between the different churches seem to
be fairly good. There are no reports on disputes or "sheep-
stealing" (trying to convert members of other denominations).
Apparently, few joint events or activities exist (most churches
seem to be self-contained).
     The relationship between the two largest churches, the
Coptic Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, appears
to be good. Both the Coptic Orthodox bishop for North Africa
(mgr. Pakomios) and the president of the Roman Catholic Epis-
copal Conference of North Africa (mgr. Teissier) visited Libya
in April 1989 (see question 3G). During this occasion Mgr.
Teissier also visited the Coptic Orthodox Churches in Benghazi
and in Tripoli together with mgr. Pakomios, and attended a
church service in both cities.262
     The relationship between Roman Catholics and Protestants
also seems to be good. Especially in Benghazi, where the Roman
Catholics allow most of the Protestant groups to meet in the
Roman Catholic church building.263
     The relationship between the different Protestant groups
are also fairly good. Only between people of the same nationa-
lity, but different ethnic backgrounds some small "culture"
problems occur.264 It often concerns problems which also exist
in their countries of origin.

     262
           Teissier (1989), p.655
     263
           Confidential report
     264
        Interviews with Maltese Christians who regularly visit
the Protestant groups in Libya.


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                                      77
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     I could not find any information on relationships between
the Coptic Orthodox Church and Protestant groups or between the
Eastern Orthodox Church and the other churches.

     In general most Libyans tolerate and often respect Chris-
tians. Magro concludes that "a word of appreciation goes also
to the local population, who are in their vast majority openly
tolerant towards the Christian faith."265 Mgr. Teissier states
that - especially because of the work of the Christian nurses
- many Libyans "respect and like the sight of a church".266 Se-
veral Protestant sources also state that the relationship be-
tween Christians and the Libyans are good.267
     Nonetheless there are a few reports on harassments of
Christians. A leader of a Protestant house church in Benghazi
writes that during one church service in 1993 "some groups of
young boys came in and attacked us". During this harassment his
Bible was stolen.268
     The international Catholic organisation Aide à l'Église en
Détresse quotes a nun - sister Luz (the superior of a Catholic
congregation in Benghazi) - who says: "Concerning a Christian,
it is not easy to serve his neighbour in this country [i.e.
Libya]".269 Once she was walking when she was attacked in a
street in Benghazi by a group of young boys who tore loose her


     265
           Magro (1990), p.48
     266
        "respectent     et aiment un visage de l'église" (Teissier
(1989), p.655). A      Catholic friar who regularly visits Libya
told me that the        Catholic nurses "are well respected by
authorities and the    people alike."
     267
           Protestant Christians who regularly visit Libya.
     268
           Letter from this Christian.
     269
        "Entant que chrétienne, il n'est pas facile de servir
son prochain dans ce pays" (Rance (1990a), p.316).


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                                      78
                        St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

chain with her cross.270


     The relationship between Christians and the government
seems to be good. In general, as long as Christians are
foreigners and do not engage themselves in proselytism among
Muslims, the government does not interfere with the Christians.
They are allowed to practise their religion in their
churches.271
     Sometimes Christians suffer from the reaction of the state
to actions of their co-religionists or their governments. In
the mid 1970's - when the relationship between Libya and Egypt
deteriorated - Egyptians were expelled from Libya in large
numbers. Among them were many Christians.272 In 1986, after a
meeting between the Roman Catholic pope and the Jewish Grand
Rabbi of Rome, the Roman Catholic bishop of Tripoli and three
priests and a nun were detained for ten days.273




              §3.2 Questionnaire on the freedom of religion
* 1A
     Art.2 of the Libyan constitution states:274
"The state protects religious freedom in accordance with esta-

       270
             Op. cit.
       271
        Interviews with Christians who regularly visit all the
different denominations in Libya.
       272
             Open Doors (1993), p.6
       273
         Rance (1990a), p.315. However, another (oral) source
told me the bishop had been arrested and detained for six days
and that this had happened mistakenly and on false rumors.
       274
        Libyan Constitution as found on internet:
 http://www.findlaw.com/01topics/06constitutional/03forconst/


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blished customs."


* 1B
     In 1971 Libya was officially declared an Islamic State.275
Art. 2 of the Libyan constitution states: "Islam is the reli-
gion of the      state".276 The constitution is based on the ideas of
Qadhafi -        the so-called Third International Theory - as
outlined in      his Green Book (three volumes). These ideas are a
mixture of       Arab nationalism, socialism and Islam (see also
§3.1.1).

* 1C
     According to the Constitution "everyone has the right to
resort to the Courts in accordance with the law" (art.30).
According to art. 28 of the constitution "judges shall be
independent. In the exercise of their functions, they shall be
free from any authority except that of the law and their
conscience".
     In practise however, no one in Libya has the right to a
fair trial.277 Security forces sometimes have the power to find
people guilty without a trial. There is no private practise of
law and all attorneys are employees of the government. The
government can influence the decisions of the judges.278


* 1D
     Some denominations in Libya are recognized as churches.
They have their own full-time priests and church buildings (see
       275
             Waardenburg (1987), p.436
       276
             See note 35
       277
        USSD (1995b), introduction: "Citizens do not have the
right to [...] a fair public trial".
       278
             USSD (1995b), 1e


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question      3A    and    3B).    These     denominations       are:   the   Coptic
Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic. The only
Protestant group with their own church building is the Union
Church. They had one full-time pastor until 1991, when this
pastor left. Until now his successor (a pastor from New
Zealand) has been denied a visa.
     Other Protestant groups are not officially recognized.
They therefore do not have full-time pastors nor their own
church buildings. They conduct their services either in private
houses or in the buildings of one of the recognized churches.
The church services in houses are "allowed but not permit-
ted",279 i.e. officially not permitted but in practise condoned.


* 2A
       As    long   as     the    Christians      practise     their    religion   in
private (at home or in churches or chapels) the government does
not interfere with the Christians. Sometimes Christians suffer
from the reaction of the regime against activities of their co-
religionists abroad or their governments (see §3.1.2).


* 2B
     The government in Libya "maintains an extensive security
apparatus" which results in "a multi-layered, pervasive sur-
veillance system which monitors and controls the activities of
individuals".280 Libyans have the saying: "the government knows
everything about you, even what soap you used this morning".281

       All church services are attended by several people who

       279
         Interview with foreign                  observer     with   contacts   with
Christians who meet in houses.
       280
             USSD (1995b), introduction
       281
             Interview with a Libyan.


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                                            81
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report to the security police what happens in the church. These
informants are expatriate members of the church, not Libyans.
No one I met had ever heard of Libyan police or security
officials entering a church or monitoring those who entered the
church from the outside.282


* 2C
     Officially all Libyans are Muslims and they are not allo-
wed to convert to Christianity. There are therefore no Chris-
tians in the Libyan administration.

* 3A
     The denominations that have a Church building (the Roman
Catholics, the Coptic Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox and the
Union Church) are free to gather in their churches. They are
also allowed to conduct services in compounds of foreign
companies.283
     There are also several chapels at locations where nuns or
friars are working in hospitals and orphanages. If a group of
nuns or friars works at a hospital or orphanage the government
has built a chapel there. In such a chapel the nuns or friars
are allowed to celebrate their masses. However, no one else is
allowed to participate - not even visiting Roman Catholic
expatriates.284
     Father Magro (the Roman Catholic vicar-general of Tripoli)
writes on the subject of freedom of worship: "Personally I can
attest to the fact that we are permitted to celebrate Holy Mass
in every city, town and village along the endless coastline of

       282
         Several interviews           with    people    who      regularly   visit
churches in Libya.
       283
             Confidential reports and Open Doors (1993), p.5
       284
             Interviews


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                                        82
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that country [i.e. Libya]".285
     The groups with no church buildings of their own either
meet in church buildings of other churches, private houses or
company compounds (see question 1D).


* 3B
     It is forbidden to build new churches in Libya. When the
present government came to power they confiscated all proper-
ties held by non-Libyans, including all churches.286 After a
while some buildings were returned to the churches: the Roman
Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox and the Coptic Orthodox all
received two buildings (one in Tripoli and one in Benghazi),
the Protestants received only one building (the Union Church in
Tripoli).287
     The other former church buildings were turned into mosques
and into all sorts of public buildings (shops, post offices,
restaurants, etc.).288


* 3C
     Christians are free to choose their own leaders. The
Coptic Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics are often
allowed to choose people who do not reside in Libya as their
leaders. These people are often allowed to enter Libya. Pro-
testants are usually only allowed to choose people as their
leader who reside in Libya and have a secular profession.289
       285
             Magro (1990), p.48
       286
             Harris (1986), p.15
       287
        Several interviews and (Catholic) Ecclesiastical Direc-
tory of Tripoli and Benghazi (Libya), 1991
       288
             Interviews and Vermaat (1994)
       289
        Several interviews. I know of at least two people who
wanted to enter Libya as a full-time pastor who were denied a
visa (one from New Zealand and one from Korea) (confidential

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* 3D
     Christians are free to train their own leaders and laymen
(see also question 3E).290


* 3E
     Christians are free to organise any activity inside their
church buildings291 (except for political activities of course).
Occasionally, they are also allowed to hire other meeting
places and conduct services there.292

* 3F
     The only aid foreign Christians are sometimes trying to
send to Christians in Libya are books and audio-visual materi-
al. Large-scale import of Christians book is made very diffi-
cult. The Roman Catholic Church complains that "most often our
religious books are confiscated and subjected to censorship
prior to being released weeks later".293
     The Maltese Bible Society294 tried to export Arabic Bibles
to Libya but these were not allowed in. Representatives of the

reports). In 1994 25 Korean Churches existeed in Libya and the
government allowed for two Korean full-time pastors.
       290
             Several interviews.
       291
        Not in the chapels in state hospitals and orphanages
(see question 3A).
       292
        I know of a few occasions when the Union Church hired a
larger meeting place where they conducted a church service with
other Protestant groups (which otherwise use their building
after or before the services of the Union Church). (Several
interviews)
       293
             Magro (1990), p.50
       294
         Since there is no Libyan Bible Society the Maltese
Bible Society also covers Libya.


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                                        84
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Maltese Bible Society stated that exporting Arabic material to
Libya is very difficult and exporting English material is
somewhat easier.
     Individuals sometimes take several Bibles with them when
they enter Libya. This is not a problem as long as Non-Arabs do
not carry Arabic Bibles with them. Arabs, however can carry
Arabic Bibles with them. Several Non-Arabic Christians received
English Bibles by mail.


* 3G
     Christian missionaries are not allowed to enter Libya.
Christian missionaries are accused of practising "subversive
activities" and using "inhuman methods" while Muslims are
called on to "categorically reject the presence of Christian
missions in their countries and [...] authorities in those
countries [are urged] not to allow such activities for any
reason whatsoever".295
     Christians who want to enter Libya to work full-time in
the churches often have great difficulties obtaining a visa.
Arabs do not need a visa. The African, Western and Asian
churches are led by people who have secular jobs in Libya. The
Union Church had a full-time pastor but after he left his
successor has been denied a visa.
     I know of several Maltese and Egyptian pastors who regu-
larly go to Libya to train Protestant groups. This is allowed.
These pastors themselves believe their activities are allowed
because they do not need a visa to enter Libya. According to
them these activities would not be allowed to someone who


       295
        WICS (1985), p.245-246. See also Borrmans (1976), 147
which describes a WICS conference where Christian mission is
described as one of the "crimes" (méfaits) of Christianity and
as "a sin against the human liberty" (un péché contre la li-
berté humaine).


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                                     85
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needed a visa to enter Libya.296
     The regional leaders of the Roman Catholic and Coptic
Orthodox Church were allowed to visit their churches only once
after the revolution. In April 1989 mgr. Teissier (president of
the Catholic Episcopal Conference of North Africa) and mgr.
Pakomios      (Coptic Orthodox bishop of Damantour and responsible
for the       Coptic Orthodox Churches in North Africa) visited
Libya.297     Mgr. Pakomios visited the Coptic Orthodox churches in
Tripoli      and Benghazi and mgr. Teissier visited most of the
Catholic communities (both of the churches, most of the nuns
and friars in the social institutions and most of the
communities in company compounds).



* 4A
     Christians are free to distribute religious literature
among their community. It is prohibited to distribute Christian
literature among Muslims. However, Christians are not allowed
to print their own literature and the import of Christian
literature is difficult (see question 3F). There are no
bookshops that sell Christian literature.298
     The books that are available have been imported either by
mail (mainly Bibles), by the embassy of a third world country
or by people who took the books with them when they visited
Libya.

* 4B
     Christians are not free to organise any activities outside
their buildings. Processions seem to be no problem (at least
       296
             Interviews in Malta and Egypt.
       297
             Open Doors (1993), p.5-6 and Teissier (1989)
       298
             Letters from expatriate Christians living in Libya.


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                                        86
                        St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

the    Eastern     Orthodox     Church     in   Benghazi     has    one   procession
                 299
every year).
     Proselytism is forbidden.300 Christians who get caught
evangelizing are often mistreated and sent to prison.301 When
the government finds out a Christian is evangelizing it will
also approach the company he works for and threaten it with
repercussions. Usually the company will then tell the Christian
to stop his activities or else face expulsion.302
     Proselytism among Non-Muslim expatriates is allowed.303


* 4C
       No one in Libya has free access to the media. The U.S.
State Department concludes that in Libya "the State owns and
controls the media." There are no Christian radio or television
programs in Libya and there is also no Christian press.
     There are three Christian radio stations which can be
received in Libya: one from Lebanon (111 hours a week), one
from the Seychelles (13 hours a week) and one from Monaco (7.5
hours a week).304

       299
             Interview with a Coptic Orthodox Christian.

       300
         Interviews with Coptic Orthodox, Roman Catholic and
Protestant sources.
       301
         Several confidential reports: one mentions that some
expatriate Christians are proselytizing among Libyans "despite
the persecution these foreigners are facing because of this."
Another report states that "Christians have been imprisoned for
attempting" to evangelize Libyans. A third report writes about
groups of expatriate Christians who tried to proselytise among
Libyans and "met with stiff government opposition".
       302
             Confidential report
       303
             Op. cit.
       304
             Johnstone (1993), p.335


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                                           87
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* 4D
     There are three kinds of schools in Libya: state schools,
schools for the expatriates of different language groups and
international schools.
     Most schools in Libya are state schools. Due to a lack of
Libyan teachers many teachers come from neighbouring Arab
countries (especially Egypt).305 In these state schools religion
(i.e. Islam) is a compulsory subject.306
     Many expatriates who reside in Libya on an individual
contract usually live in the cities and have their families
with them (contrary to those in the compounds who reside in
Libya on the contract their companies have with Libya). For the
children of these people schools exist for the different
language groups - Teissier mentioned at least Polish and French
schools.307 I do not know whether these schools teach religion.
     A third type of schools are the international schools.
These can be found in the larger cities, like Benghazi and
Tripoli. These schools teach in English and they are attended
by both foreigners and Libyans. I do not know whether these
schools teach religion.
     The Roman Catholic church is allowed to arrange confirma-
tion classes for Catholic children, in Tripoli alone more than
230 children.308 I do not know whether these confirmation clas-
ses are part of the schools' curricula or whether they are held
after school hours. I also do not know whether other churches
are allowed to organize confirmation classes.

       305
             Fischer (1995b), p.712 and Harris (1986), p.26
       306
             Harris (1986), p.38
       307
             Teissier (1989), p.654
       308
             Teissier (1989), p.655


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                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)


* 4E
     The only Christians who are allowed to do charitable work
in Libya are the Roman Catholic nuns and friars. They have been
asked by the government to work in "the hospitals and the
social institutions of the state".309 In the Autumn of 1990 they
numbered just over 100 nuns and friars,310 mainly working in
hospitals, but also in orphanages and with disabled children.311


* 4F
     If a Christian child attends a state school it is forced
to attend Islamic education. There is no indication of whatever
children at other schools are subject to Islamic education (See
as well question 5I).


* 5A-5D
     Officially there are no Libyan Christians. What would
happen if it became known that a Libyan was Christian is not
certain (see also question 5H).
     There are very few reports on the persecution and
discrimination against foreign Christians; on the whole they
seem to be respected (see §3.1.2).



* 5E
     Marriages between foreigners are governed by the laws of
the countries of the spouses (usually the husband). If one of
the two is a Libyan however the Libyan law is applied to the

       309
        "les hôpitaux et les institutions sociales de l'État"
(Teissier (1989), p.654
       310
             Open Doors (1993), p.5
       311
             Teissier (1989), p.654


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                                        89
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

couple.312
     No Libyan woman is therefore allowed to marry a Christian
man (whether he is a Libyan or a foreigner). In all cases known
to me of a Non-Muslim woman who married a Libyan man the woman
had to convert to Islam.313


* 5F
     With the exception of security areas, people usually have
the freedom of movement within Libya.314 Magro states: "All this
goes to the credit of the authorities of the country who give
us [i.e. Roman Catholic clergyman] all the freedom necessary to
travel across the land".315
     Libyans need an exit permit to leave Libya. After a failed
coup plot in 1993, the government imposed additional exit
requirements, including the authorization of certain ministries
and limited access to hard currencies. Authorities routinely
seize the passports of people who are married to Libyan citi-
zens upon entry into Libya.316
     Foreigners need a re-entry visa to return to Libya.
Sometimes they have difficulties obtaining one.


* 5G
       Libyans are not allowed to become Christians by law.317
Foreigners are allowed to convert to Christianity in Libya but

       312
             Libyan Civil Code art.12-14 (Nasir (1990), p.38-39).
       313
         Interview with           Maltese      Roman     Catholic   friar   who
regularly visits Libya.
       314
             USSD (1995b), 2d
       315
             Magro (1990), p.48
       316
             USSD (1995b), 2d
       317
             Several interviews


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their    religion    does   not    influence      their    legal    position   in
        318
Libya.

* 5H
        All    sources   agree    that    Libyans    who    would    convert   to
                                                                   319
Christianity would be persecuted by their family.   I know of
several Christian women who married Libyan men. They had to
convert to Islam and they were told that they would be killed
if they ever returned to Christianity.320
     In a letter a Libyan Christian states she listens to
Christian radio programmes with earphones because she is afraid
of her family's reaction if they find out she is listening to
Christian programs (let alone if they find out she has
converted to Christianity!)
     The attitude of the state towards Libyan converts to
Christianity is not known. Some sources expect that the go-
vernment will not interfere, whereas other sources expect that
the government will persecute a Libyan Christian.321 The follo-
wing may suggest that the government would persecute Libyan
converts to Christianity.
     First, Qadhafi's view that Arabs and Africans should be
Muslims and his call on Arab and African Christians to convert
to Islam (see §3.1.2).
     Second, the strong reaction of the Libyan government
against evangelism and missions aimed at proselytizing Libyans
(see question 3G and 4B).
     Third, an interview with the imam of the World Islamic
       318
             Confidential reports
       319
             Interviews and confidential reports
       320
             Interview with a Roman Catholic friar in Malta.
       321
         Interviews with Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox and
Protestant sources.


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                                         91
                        St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Call    Centre     on     Malta.322     During     this     interview   the   imam
                                                    c
subscribed to the view of the shari a that an apostate from
Islam should be killed and that the government is responsible
for the punishment of an apostate.323
     Finally, the commotion concerning the alleged apostasy of
a Libyan retired judge - in the beginning of the 1990's.324 This
retired judge - Mustafa Kamal Al-Mahdawi - had written a book
which many Muslims deemed heretical. This book was withdrawn
from the stores and the judge was subjected to a "ferocious
campaign"325 conducted by the religious establishment and the
press to get him convicted of apostasy. A facsimile written by
the imam of a mosque in Saudi Arabia - which called for a fatwa
against this judge and his execution for conducting apostasy -
was distributed for free in Libya.326 The judge was consequently
brought to trial on the accusation of committing apostasy.327

       322
             See footnote 1.
       323
        This does not mean I think the government would kill an
apostate. By late 1972 several criminal laws requiring penal-
ties as prescribed in the sharica - like amputation and the
death penalty for certain crimes - had been passed. However,
there is no evidence that such severe punishments have been
applied since Qadhafi came to power in 1969 (Harris (1986),
p.16).
       324
         His story is described by Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994),
p.111. He was found guilty of apostasy in 1992. Subsequently
the case was brought to the court of appeal which postponed the
case up to December 23 1996 (personal correspondence with judge
al-Mahdawi).
       325
             "campagne féroce"

       326
        J_bar al-Jaz_'ir_ (1992). In this publication the imam
gives 43 reasons why Al-Mahdawi should be considered an apo-
state from Islam.

       327
           There is no law against apostasy in Libya. The court
was    requested to apply the "general norms of Islamic law"

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                                           92
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

       This event shows several indications regarding the treat-
ment of apostasy by the Libyan government:328 the judge was
subjected to a campaign to get him convicted of apostasy by
both the press and the religious establishment in the mosques.
Both are under state control.329 The Saudi Arabian facsimile was
distributed in Libya. No facsimile that contravenes the opinion
of the government is allowed to be distributed in Libya.
Finally the judge was brought to trial on the accusation of
committing apostasy. So, apparently, apostasy is considered a
crime one can be accused of in court.

* 5I
     Several sources informed me that foreign Christians are
not pressured to convert to Islam.330 No indications are known
to me that point to pressure on Christians to convert to Islam.
The general opinion is that Christians are tolerated and even
respected in Libya (see §3.1.2).


* 5J
     There are no laws that distinguish between Muslim expa-
triates and Non-Muslim expatriates. The "Great Green Charter on
Human Rights in the Jamahiriya Era"331 states: "The members of


(quoted from        personal   correspondence        with    mr.   Aldeeb    Abu-
Sahlieh).
       328
        The judge was accused of committing apostasy. He did
not convert to another religion. Therefore his case can not be
fully compared with the case of a Muslim who would convert to
Christianity.
       329
             USSD (1995b), 2a and 2c.
       330
         Several Christians who regularly visit                    Libya    and   a
leader of one of the biggest churches in Libya.
              331
             "Grande Charte verte des droits de 'homme de l'ère
gamahiriyenne" (as printed in Aldeeb Abu Sahlieh (1994), p.517-

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the Jamahiriya society reject every segregation between human
beings based on their colour, on their race, on their religion
or on their culture" (art. 17).332

* 6A
     The church is not seriously weakened by persecution.
However, the prohibition of proselytism hinders the foundation
of indigenous Christianity in Libya.


                         §3.3 Analysis
     All Christians in Libya are foreigners. Libyans are not
allowed to become Christian. This is a result of Qadhafi's idea
that an Arab should be Muslim. Also the constitution states
that Libya is an Islamic state.
     The constitution also states that the state protects
religious freedom. However, this only applies to the expatriate
Christians. Their situation is fairly good, as long as they do
not proselytize among Muslims. There are very few churches, but
many Christians are allowed to have their services in chapels
in social institutions or in company compounds. Christians with
no official place of worship are allowed to have their services
in private houses.
     Christians are free to do anything they want in the church
buildings. They are also allowed to elect and train their own
leaders. There is no forced Islamization in Libya.
     There are a few cases of persecution that result from the
general human rights situation. There is no right to a fair


519). This charter was declared by the Libyan Peoples Congres
as a human rights charter based on Qadhafi's Green Book in June
1988 (preamble).
       332
         "Les membres de la société gamahiriyenne rejettent
toute ségrégation entre les hommes due à leur couleur, à leur
race, à leur religion ou à leur culture".


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                                     94
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

trial, not for Christians and not for anyone else. Either the
churches are closely monitored by the security police. The
mosques, however, are monitored the most closely (only
government appointed imams are allowed to preach in the
mosques). There is no freedom to engage in social work. Only
the friars and nurses that are invited by the government to
perform social work are allowed. However, Muslim organisations,
like the Muslim Brotherhood, are not allowed to perform social
work at all.
     There is also some persecution that is aimed against
Christianity. Christians are not allowed to proselytize (people
from all the different denominations do want to engage in
proselytizing Muslims). Even Non-Muslim women who are married
to Libyans have to convert to Islam. There are also
difficulties with the import of Christian literature.
     In general Christians are tolerated in Libya, by both the
government and the people. Except for the government there are
no groups in society that persecute Christians. The government
persecutes Christians in a few policies, some caused by the
general tight security situation in Libya, some specifically
aimed at Christians. The latter are caused by the equation of
Christianity with the West. No Libyans are allowed to become
"Western" Christians. The government also does not like the
import of Christian ("Western") literature.




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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

                            Chapter 4: Sudan


     This chapter deals with the human rights situation of
Christians in Sudan.333 The first paragraph gives some relevant
general background information. In the second paragraph the
question posed in the introduction will be dealt with on the
basis of the questionnaire on the freedom of religion (see
appendix A). In the third paragraph the data of §4.1 and §4.2
will be analyzed.
     Concerning the human rights situation of Christians, Sudan
can be divided in three areas: North Sudan, the war-zones that
are under the control of the government (i.e. parts of the
Nuba-mountains and of South Sudan) and the areas under control
of the guerrilla movements (see §4.1.1). In this thesis I will
look at the first two areas only.
     I restrict myself because of two reasons: first, I only
visited North Sudan (see Appendix C). It is very difficult to
find information about the areas under the control of the
guerrillas while residing in the North. Second, in the areas
under the control of the guerrillas religious freedom exists
for all religions.334

                §4.1.1 General background information
     The population of Sudan is very diverse. It can be
classified according to ethnic background, language and
religion.
     Within Sudan something less than 600 tribes exist.335 These
     333
        This chapter is based on literature and several inter-
views. The literature is listed in the bibliography. For the
interviews see appendix C. For the sake of the personal safety
of the people I interviewed I do not quote them by name.
     334
           CSI (1994), p.3 and USSD (1995c), 2
     335
        UNHCR (1993b), p.1 states Sudan is fragmented into 56
ethnic groups and 597 subgroups. Harir & Tvedt (1994) state

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are often regrouped in eight major ethnic catego-
ries:336 the Arabs, Nilotes (or central Southerners), Westerners
of Dar Fur, Nuba, Nubians, eastern Southerners (or Nilo-Hami-
tes), western Southerners (or Sudanic group)337 and foreigners.
     Sudan is often simply divided into an Arab-Islamic North
and a Non-Arab and Non-Muslim South.338 This division, however,
ignores the Non-Arab Muslims who live in the middle of the
Sudan: the Fur and Zaghawa in the West, the Nuba in the Middle
and the Beja in the East.339
     The different ethnic groups in Sudan speak many langu-
 ages.340 These languages can be divided in three families:341
Afro-Asian (including Arabic), Niger-Kordofan and Nilotic
Saharian. The Arabic language nonetheless provides a lingua
franca.
     Another criteria for classifying the population of Sudan
is religion. The majority of the populations in the Northern,

that within Sudan "about 570 tribes exist" (p.18).
     336
         Harir & Tvedt (1994), p.18. Lavergne                  (1989)   uses
roughly the same classification (p.84-85).
     337
        Harir (1994), p.18 forgets this category (he announces
eight categories, but he notes seven categories only). On page
37, however, he notes the Sudanic Southerners.
     338
           See for instance UNHCR (1993b), p.1
     339
         For the situation in the Nuba Mountains see African
Rights (1995) and the reports of Nuba Mountains Organisation
Abroad and Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad. For the situation
of the Beja see CSI (1996). For the situation of the Fur and
Zaghawa see Abdelmoula (1996), p.14.
     340
         Harir & Tvedt (1994) quote the following numbers
(p.18): 100+, 250, 590 and 595. They themselves give the last
figure: 595.
     341
         Lavergne (1989), p.90. On pages 91-93 he                 gives a
further classification of the different languages                 and the
regions where they are spoken.


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Western and Eastern parts of Sudan are Muslims, constituting
seventy per cent of the overall population of Sudan.342 In the
South most people are either Christian, Animists (adherents of
local African religions) or a mixture of both.343
     Adherents to neither of these religions constitute
homogenous   groups.  Christianity  is   divided   in  several
denominations (see §4.1.2). Animism is not one religion but a
common name for several local creeds. The Muslims in Sudan are
also divided in several groups and brotherhoods. The main
Islamic groups are the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ansar, the
Khatmiya, the Qadriya, the Tiganiya and the Ansar as-Sunna.344
Enmity exists between the NIF (which controls the government)
and the Ansar and Khatmiya (whose political parties are the
backbone of the opposition).


     Next to the above-mentioned division also a division
exists between the North and the South in degree of devel-
opment. Prior to independence, Sudan was administered by Great
Britain and Egypt through the Anglo-Egyptian condominium. The
policy of the condominium enforced the already existing
division between North and South Sudan.
     The colonial policy divided the country in two parts:
North and South. Access from one part of the country to the
other was restricted. In the South Christian missionaries were
encouraged to enter. These missionaries were not only allowed
to proselytise, but they were also entrusted with education. No

     342
           Harir and Tvedt (1994), p.19
     343
         This could account for the different numbers of
Christians and animists that are given. These range from
Animists 25% and Christians 5% (CIA (1996), p.3) to Christians
20% and Animists 10% (Open Doors (1996c), p.3). See also
§4.1.2.
     344
           Harir & Tvedt (1994), p.19-20.


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

Christian missionaries were allowed in the North. This policy
resulted in the formation of a Muslim, Arab elite in the North
and an African, Christian and missionary-educated elite in the
South.345
     The colonial policy also resulted in a pace of development
that "varied considerably from one part of the country to
another."346 The development efforts were concentrated on the
valley of the Nile to the North of Khartoum, the Blue and
White Nile areas immediately south of Khartoum (the so-called
Gezira), central Kordofan, the southern part of Kassala
province (these are all important agricultural areas) and Port
Sudan (the largest port of Sudan).347 There was almost no
development in the South.
     Although independence was gained through the efforts of
both Northeners and Southerners, the subsequent governments
were dominated by Arab Northerners.348 The Southerners were
"marginalized from access to the state".349


     Both the ethnic and religious differences and the unequal
levels of development caused the outbreak of a civil war
shortly after independence in 1956.350 The war ended with the
signing of the Addis Abeba agreement in 1972.351 According to
     345
           Harir & Tvedt (1994), p.33.
     346
           Niblock (1987), p.143
     347
           Niblock (1987), p. 143-147 and an interview with Dr.
Tigani.
     348
           Harir & Tvedt (1994), p.33 and an interview with Dr.
Tigani.
     349
           Harrir & Tvedt (1994), p.33
     350
           Deng (1993), p.3
     351
        For the content of this agreement see Lavergne (1989),
p.400 and Niblock (1987), p.276-279.


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                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

this    agreement    Southern    Sudan    became     an     autonomous      part   of
Sudan with its own federal government.
     This agreement, however, was never fully applied:352
sometimes the central government in the North surpassed the
government in the South (esp. in matters of education and
economic planning), the government asserted control over the
waters of the Nile and oil in the South and the disparities in
economic development between the North and the South continued
to grow. The president also committed himself increasingly to
Islamic sentiments. In 1982 The president launched an
preposition to redivide Southern Sudan into three provinces
(this would be an infringement on the Addis Abeba Agreement).
     It was in this context that civil war re-emerged in
Southern Sudan. From February 1983 onwards, several mutinies
occured in the South. Also several attacks occured on Northern
merchants      living in the South. on June 5 1983 the South was
redivided      into three provinces. This resulted in large-scale
mutinies      in these southern provinces. In July many of these
mutineers      joined together in the Sudanese People Liberation
Army (SPLA).
     In September 1983 the sharica was introduced for the whole
country. Since then the abrogation of the sharica has been one
of the most important demands of the guerrillas.353
     Two years later president Numayri was ousted in a military
coup led by Lt-Gen. Diwar ad-Dhahab. Ad-Dhahab appointed a
Transitional Military Council (TMC). The newly formed National
Islamic Front (NIF)354 had considerable influence within the TMC
       352
             See Van Kessel (1996), p.1 and Lavergne (1989), p.400-
413.
       353
             Allan (1995), p. 907.

       354
              The   NIF    originated        from     the        Sudanese    Muslim
Brotherhood.


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and   the     cabinet,   several     of     whose    leading    members   were
sympathizers or supporters. These included Siwar ad-Dhahab, the
prime minister, and the ministers of education and justice.355
     After elections in 1986 Sudan returned to civilian rule.
The three major parties in Sudan after the elections were the
Umma Party, the Democratic Unionist Party and the NIF. The Umma
Party and the Democratic Unionist Party formed a coalition. In
1988 the NIF joined the coalition. Neither the TMC nor the
democratic governments abrogated the sharica law.
     In 1989 the Umma Party and the Democratic Unionist Party
negotiated an agreement with the resistance groups in Southern
Sudan. Part of this agreement was the suspention of the sharica
law. However, on June 30 1989, just before the conclusion of
this agreement, the government was ousted by a military coup
led by Lt-Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. It soon emerged
that members and sympathizers of the NIF occupied all important
posts and that the NIF ideology (Islamization and Arabization)
directed political developments.356

     The civil war in Sudan deteriorates                  the general human
rights situation.357 Amnesty International                reports: "a con-
sistent pattern of human rights abuse in                  Sudan is clear...
People from virtually every walk of life in                Sudan are at risk
of human rights abuse by those in authority, whether in the
war-zones, in areas controlled by the government, in areas


      355
         Warburg (1995), p.229. After the elections of 1986
Siwar ad-Dhahab became the secretary-general of the Dacwa
Islamiya (see question 5I) (Lavergne (1989), p.373).

      356
            PCI (1994), p.14.
      357
        See for instance AI (1995) chapter 4 ("The Destruction
of the South") and 5 ("Exploiting Ethnicity").


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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

controlled by the armed opposition or in areas far from the war
and little affected by it."358
     The government carries out massacres, extrajudicial kil-
lings, kidnappings, forced labour, slavery, and forced con-
scription. A myriad of official and secret government security
forces routinely harass, detain, and torture opponents or
suspected opponents of the government with impunity. Prison
conditions are harsh, and the judiciary is largely subservient
to the government.   The government continues to restrict most
human rights, including the rights to free speech, press,
assembly, association, religion, privacy, and movement. In the
context of the Islamization and Arabization drive, pressure -
including  forced  Islamization               -   on    Non-Muslims   remains
       359
strong.
     Other  government  actions               against    citizens     include:
                                        360
bombardments on civilian targets     and manipulations with food
    361
aid.    A final alarming event is the construction of a chemical
     358
        AI (1995), p.6. For the general human rights situation
in all these areas see USSD (1995c) and the publications of
Amnesty International and Dr. Biro that are listed in the
bibliography.
     359
           USSD (1995c), introduction.
     360
        See for instance Biro (1995a), p.4: "Another alarming
problem is the continuation of indiscriminate and deliberate
aerial bombardments by the Government of the Sudan forces on
civilian targets in Southern Sudan". For more recent accounts
see Open Doors, No 287 (June/July 1996), p.6.
     361
        The war and several droughts in the 1980's have caused
large-scale famine, particularly in the Nuba-Mountains and in
South Sudan. Many national and international organisations
deliver food aid to the affected areas. All parties in the war
have used the weapon of allowing and forbidding food aid to
enter the areas of another party. This has caused severe misery
for thousands of the civilian inhabitants of these areas - so-
called `man-made famine' (this information has been derived
from several interviews with international aid organisations in
Sudan). See also Open Doors (1996c), p.4 and CSI (1995d), p.2
and especially p.3 where CSI describes the death of thousands

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                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

weapons factory near Khartoum.362 There are some reports that
chemical weapons have been used by government forces.363

                   §4.1.2 Background on Christians
     Although     the exact number of Christians               in   Sudan   is
            364
uncertain,    observers estimate that they number approximately
10% of the population.365   For several reasons in most Middle
Eastern countries the number of Christians is
uncertain,366 but in Sudan there are two additional reasons.
First, the fact that some people practise both Christianity and
Animism.367  Second,  Christianity  in   Sudan  has   increased
                           368
enormously the past decade.

of people from lack of food and medicine - simply because the
aid agencies were refused permission to enter certain areas.
     362
        This factory was built in the second half of 1995 with
the help of Iraqi engineers (information has been derived from
interviews with employees of the Sudan Desk of the United
Nations' Human Rights Centre in Geneva).
     363
        See for instance Open Doors, No 284 (March 1996), p.8-9
mentions attacks with napalm on three cities in the Nuba
Mountains.
     364
           For the different numbers see footnote 10.
     365
         Several interviews; Soudan (1992a), p.59; Soudan
(1992b), p.61; News Network International, August 21, 1992,
p.33.
     366
        There are no reliable statistics, since the government
tends to give numbers that are too low, while Christians often
give numbers that are too high. Also, converts from Islam to
Christianity usually remain registered as Muslims.
     367
           See footnote 11.
     368
        Interviews with several leaders of different denomina-
tions (they stated that thousands convert to Christianity each
year). See also MEC (1994), p.10 which speaks of an "explosive
church growth over the last 10 years" and Eibner (1993) and PCI
(1994), p.43 who give several examples of church growth. Open
Doors, No 269 (October 1994), p.6 reports that in no other

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                                     103
                       St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     By    far   the    largest     denomination       is   the Roman Catholic
Church - approximately 2,6 million adherents.369 Other large
denominations are: the Episcopal Church of Sudan (approximate-
ly 1 million members), the Presbyterian Church (67,000 adhe-
rents) and the Coptic Orthodox Church (approximately 150,000-
200,000 followers).370
     Most Christians live in Southern Sudan (in the provinces
of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr al-Ghazal), in the Nuba
Mountains371 or as displaced people around Khartoum or in one of
the neighbouring countries.372 Except for the adherents of the
Coptic Orthodox Church, most Christians live in the South of
Sudan or in the Nuba Mountains.


     The relationship between Christians differs from place to
place. In the North division exists both among ethnic lines and
among denominational lines.
     People who belong to the three dominating Southern tribes
- the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk - are often divided.373 For

Islamic country so many people convert to Christianity as in
Sudan. Open Doors, No 273 (February 1995), p.7 quotes a Sudanese
evangelist who reports: "So many people convert that we can not
keep up" ("We kunnen het niet bijhouden, er komen zoveel mensen
tot geloof").
     369
        For this and the following numbers see Allan (1995),
p.927-928.
     370
           For this last figure see Abdelmoula (1996), p.17.
     371
        According to Miss Nur Tawir Kafi approximately 40% of
the Nubas are Christian (this figure was stated during an
interview).
     372
        Approximately 1.5-2 million people who fled the war in
  the South and the Nuba Mountains and the drought in Dar Fur
live in and around Khartoum. Approximately the same number fled
in the neighbouring countries of Sudan (figures have been
stated by members of international aid organisations).
     373
           There are, for instance, three guerrilla groups - the

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                                         104
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

instance, during a visit to a displaced camp near Khartoum, a
Nuer man complained to me that he had no church to visit. When
I told him about the clay compound several hundred meters away
from his house, he looked at me amazed and said: "But that is a
Dinka-Church. I can not go there."
     Also some division among denominational lines exist. Many
Catholic leaders complain that they are the only one who voices
their protest against the government's policies. Some Catholics
claim that the leadership of the other churches is cooperating
with the government.374
     Some leaders of the Evangelical Church complain that the
other churches are "spiritually dead" and that the leaders of
the other churches cooperate with the government.375
     The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church are too
divided internally to quarrel with the other churches. They
both have leadership problems. Their national leaders refused
to step down after their terms had expired and successors had
been appointed. This resulted in two separated hierarchies -
one appointed by the old leader and one appointed by his
successor. Recently, the Episcopal Church has resolved this
problem by simply recognizing all bishops (they cut all their
dioceses in half). The Presbyterian Church is still subject to
this division.376

SPLA, the SSIM and the SPLA-United. These three groups are
supported mainly by Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk respectively
(interviews with several Sudanese, see also Van Kessel (1996),
p.2). These three groups are not just fighting the government,
but also each other.
     374
         Information has been derived from interviews with
several Roman Catholics (mostly lay-people). The Roman Catholic
Church can afford itself to be critical of the government since
it is by the far the largest church and has the best
connections with Western countries.
     375
           Interviews with Evangelical leaders.
     376
           Interviews with Episcopal church leaders and people of

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                                     105
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

     Due to mismanagement and corruption the churches tried to
avoid the Sudan Council of Churches in the past. Since the
appointment of a new secretary-general in 1995, however, the
churches are increasing their involvement in the council. Under
the auspices of the Sudan Council of Churches the different
church leaders have started to meet each other regularly. The
cooperation between the churches has increased as a result.377
     In the South, where the Christians are much more
persecuted, the relationships between the churches are much
better. Inter-church committees have been founded in many
places which organise joint activities.378 In the New Sudan
Council of Churches there appears to be a large degree of
unity.379

     Christians have good relationships with most Muslims. The
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Khartoum - Mgr. Wako - has stated
that are two kind of Muslims in Sudan. There are those who
"sincerely feel things are not all right, those who feel
Christians, particularly those from the South, are discrimi-
nated against and maltreated on religious grounds, and who
openly express their sympathy". Others "feel that the Sudan is


the Sudan Council of Churches.
     377
        Interviews with several church leaders and leaders of
the Sudan Council of Churches. This improvement has become
visible the last months. An observer who visited Sudan in March
1996 concluded that "their[sic] is quite some unity between the
churches" (Open Doors (1996b), p.23).
     378
         Interviews and Open Doors (1996b), p.21. This last
source also gives an example of the inter-church cooperation in
a Southern town (ibid., p.28).
     379
         The New Sudan Council of Churches is the Council of
Churches in the areas under control of the guerrillas
(information has been derived from an interview with rev.
Oromo).


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                                    106
                   St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

and must remain an Islamic country, want to see that every-
thing be Islamic, that no other religion be mentioned except
Islam, and that every one who claims to be Sudanese should bow
before Islamic values". "The bulk of the Sudanese" adhere to
the former view.380
     Most sources agree that, in general, the relationships
between Christians and Muslims are good.381 There are even
reports of events where Muslims protested together with
Christians against persecution of Christians.382
     There are, however, also Muslims who adhere to the second
view as described by mgr. Wako. There are reports of private
Sudanese Muslims who try to close Christian institutions.383


     The relationship between Christians and the government is
restrained considerably,     because the government heavily
persecutes Christians - see §4.2. The government               pursues   a
policy of forced Islamization and Arabization.384
     380
           Mgr. Wako in CIPF (1994), p.3
     381
         Several interviews with church leaders, Muslims and
Western diplomats.
     382
        IISIC (1992) reports an event in the town of Damazin
where both Christians and Muslims protested against the forced
closure of a Church. Open Doors, No 269 (October 1994), p.4
reports the protest of both Muslims and Christians against the
flogging of a Muslim convert to Christianity.
     383
         Open Doors, No 281 (November 1995), p.6 reports of
attempts by Muslims to get churches closed, to get the office
of the Sudanese Bible Society closed and who send threatening
letters to Christian institutions. Open Doors (1996b), p.30
reports of Muslims around the Southern town of Renk who have
burnt a church down.
     384
         Almost all sources agree on this matter. See for
instance Biro (1995c), p.12; Open Doors (1996b), p.28; CSI
(1995c), p.11; Soudan (1992a), p.60; MEC (1994), p.7; Abdel-
moula (1996), p.13; USSD (1995c), 2c and 5; Africa Confiden-
tial, Vol. 34 No 21 (October 2, 1993), p.1; PCI (1994), p.18 and
several interviews with Sudanese Muslims, Christians and

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                                     107
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

       The situation in Northern Sudan differs from the situation
in Southern Sudan, probably because of the presence of Western
embassies in the North.385
     In the North the situation of Christians is better: church
services   are   allowed   (in  church  buildings),   sometimes
processions are allowed, the Bible Society is allowed to have
an office and to function. The extrajudicial killing of
Christians is rare.
      In the South the situation is much worse: a large number
of church buildings have been destroyed, many Christian
civilians have been tortured or killed. The policy of forced
Islamization is pursued more ruthlessly.


              §4.2 Questionnaire on the freedom of religion
* 1A
     No constitution exists in Sudan at the moment, because the
constitution was suspended following the military coup which
brought the present government to power.386
     Since the coup however - and in advance of the new
constitution - the government has issued several constitutional
orders and constitutional decrees.387 Constitutional decree
seven, chapter one, states that Christianity "may be freely
adopted".388 Chapter two of the same decree states that "a
religious citizen...has a right to choose his religion without
compulsion and not to be discriminated against on grounds of


Western diplomats.
       385
             Interviews with church leaders.
       386
             Allan (1995), p.26
       387
        For an extensive review of these orders and decrees see
Nyot Kok (1995), p.680-704.
       388
             Ibid., p.703


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                                       108
                        St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

his faith, beliefs, social or financial standing."389
     According to the United States State Department the
government of Sudan has stated that "all religions should be
respected and that freedom of worship is guaranteed".390


* 1B
     According to the government391 the sources of legislation
are the sharica and custom - of both Muslims and Non-Muslims. It
claims the customs and traditions of Non-Muslims have become an
important tributary to national legislation. The government
also claims they apply two forms of legal             pluralism:
                                  c
federal pluralism - i.e. the shari a does not apply in the three
Southern states392 - and personal pluralism - i.e. in the other
states the sharica is only applied to Muslims.
     In practise, however, all these claims turn out to be
false. The Non-Muslims' customs are recognized concerning
personal status matters only.393 All other areas of law are
Islamized and in addition also the educational and political
system.394 This led the Sudan Council of Churches to the
conclusion that "it is undoubted that Non-Muslims' customs are
not recognized."395
     Although the sharica is not applied in the South offi-
 cially, most sources agree that the Islamic law is applied

       389
             Ibid., p.704
       390
             USSD (1995c), 2c.
       391
             Atabani (1995), p.69
       392
             See for instance Allan (1995), p.927
       393
             Saw_s (1994) and an interview with Sudanese citizen.
       394
             SCC (1993a), p.1
       395
             Op. cit.


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                                          109
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

there in practise. Dr. Biro, for instance, stated that he had
received "several reports that in southern cities controlled by
the government, these provisions [i.e. the sharica] are effected
by courts".396
     Sudan has been redivided in 26 states in 1994.397 Each
state has the freedom to choose whether they apply the sharica
or not. This has not changed the fact, however, that the sharica
is applied in practice in all states.
     Personal pluralism is often not applied. Most sources
agree that the sharcia is applied on Non-Muslims in the North.398
Some examples are: the flogging of Non-Muslim women who do not
wear Islamic dress399 and Non-Muslim women who are send to
prison for brewing alcohol.400 Another example is difficulties
the Roman Catholic Church encounters concerning the alcohol
they need for holy communion.401 They have a permit to import
the alcohol, but nonetheless they face difficulties putting the
permit in practice. Notwithstanding the permit some government
officials refuse to allow the import of alcohol or sometimes
the imported alcohol is destroyed by government officials.


* 1C
       396
        Quoted from Open Doors (1994), p.69-70. See also CIA
(1995), p.4 and interviews with several church leaders.
       397
        Nyot Kok (1995), p.681. Ibid., p.687-688 sums up all
the new states.
       398
        CIA (1995), p.4; Dr. Biro, quoted in Open Doors (1994),
p.69-70; SCC (1993a), p.1; AI (1995), p.44-46 and interviews
with church leaders and Western diplomats.
       399
        AI (1995), p.45-46 and interviews with Sudanese women
and church leaders.
       400
        AI (1995), p.44 and interviews with Western diplomats
and employees of international aid organisations.
       401
             Interview with a Catholic leader.


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                                       110
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       The judiciary in Sudan is not independent. Since the coup
in 1989 the judiciary is purged. Many judges have been repla-
ced by judges of the National Islamic Front - the Islamist
group behind the coup.402 As a result the judiciary has become
subservient to the government.
     It is not possible to win a court case against the
government in Sudan. Filing a complaint against the government
can already be dangerous.403 For Christians this is even more
difficult since many judges apply the sharica rule of not
accepting the testimony of a Christian against a Muslim -
neither against Muslim government employees or against private
Muslims.404


* 1D
       Up to October 4 1994 the legal situation of the churches
was governed by the "Missionaries Societies Act, 1962".
According to this law the churches are foreign organisations.
This law also restricts the functioning of the churches in
several ways. For instance, Christians need a permit to build a
church - these permits are not granted (see question 3B),
churches are not allowed to own property - like buildings, cars
etc. All these are obliged to be registered on the name of
local Sudanese Christians. Most property of the Roman Catholic
Church in Northern Sudan is therefore registered on the name of
mgr. Wako (the Archbishop of Khartoum).405

       402
        USSD (1995c), 1e; AI (1995), p.20; Abdelmoula (1996),
p.17 and interviews with Sudanese church leaders and a Sudanese
lawyer.
       403
              Interviews   with    Sudanese      citizens        and   a   Sudanese
lawyer.
       404
             An interview with a Sudanese lawyer.
       405
             Interviews with several church leaders.


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     On October 4, 1994 the "Missionary Societies Act, 1962"
was replaced by the "Miscellaneous Amendment (Organisation of
Voluntary Work) Act 1994".406 This new law describes a church as
"a foreign voluntary organisation" which has to be registered
under the "Societies Registration Act, 1957".407 This new law
equates the churches with non-governmental organisations like
trade unions, associations, etc.408 This means that:
  - all properties of the church would become the government's
     when a denomination ceases to exist in Sudan,
  - a denomination has to ask permission from the government
     when it intends to employ someone - for instance a priest
     or a bishop,
  - the denominations have to account to the government for
     the way they spend their money, and
  - each denomination has to adopt the form of an associa-
          tion. This means it has to gather all its members
     into a general assembly once a year and that this general
     assembly is to possess the highest authority within the
     denomination. This is especially unacceptable for highly
     hierarchical denominations like the Roman Catholic Church
     and the Episcopal Church.


     All denominations reject this new law and the government
has promised a discussion with the churches on this matter.409

     406
           SCBC (1995), p.2-3
     407
           SCBC   (1995),   p.3    and   an   interview         with   a   Sudanese
lawyer.
     408
        This "Societies Registration Act, 1957" was implemented
in the past to regulate the affairs of trade unions and other
non-governmental organisations (information has been derived
from an interview with a Sudanese lawyer).
     409
         This and the following information has been derived
from interviews with several church leaders.


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Until        now,   however,    the     churches      have    not   received   an
invitation for such a discussion. In the meanwhile the law is
signed by the president and therefore officially issued.

* 2A
     Officially the government has a positive attitude towards
Christians. The government claims to treat Christians equal to
Muslims.410 The most influential leader in Sudan, Al-Turabi,
stated: "Muslims are bound to relate to non-Muslim minorities
positively...They must treat them with trust, beneficence, and
equity."411
     In practice, the government has a very negative attitude
towards Christians. Both the press and imams in the mosques -
both under tight government control - speak very negatively
about Christians.412 Christians are accused of being foreign and
anti-Islam. Imams call on Muslims not to rent houses to
Christians. Christians are often referred to as "infidels".
     The soldiers of the Popular Defense Force (PDF) are
indoctrinated to "hate Christians".413 A PDF recruitment slogan
is: "These infidels have unpurified the land of the Arabs and
the Quran. Only the blood of the martyrs can purify it."414 So
according to this slogan - which is used by the government -
Sudan is the country of the Arabs and of the Quran - i.e. of
       410
             For instance Atabani (1995), p.68-69.
       411
             Turabi (1993), p.250
       412
        See Open Doors (1996c), p.6; IISIC (1992) and Soudan
(1992a), p.64
       413
        The quote has been derived from an interview with a
family member of a Christian who was forced to join the PDF
(see also question 5I). The PDF is a militia that was founded
by the present government as a counterweight to the regular
army.
       414
             Africa Confidential, Vol. 37 No 8 (April 12, 1996), p.3.


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the Muslims.
     A fatwa was issued at an Islamic conference in El Obeid in
1993. The government uses this fatwa to justify the war against
Non-Muslims and Muslims in Sudan. The fatwa says: "an insurgent
who was previously a Muslim is now an apostate; and a non-
Muslim is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the
spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing
both of them".415


* 2B
     The government has many places of gathering monitored by
state organisations. The United States State Department
concludes that "a wide network of government informants
conducted pervasive surveillance in schools, universities,
markets, workplaces, and neighbourhoods."416
     Several church leaders have stated that their church
services are monitored by the security services. If a church
leader is too critical of the government, the government often
reacts by withholding travel permits.


* 2C
       After the coup in 1989 massive purges were carried out by
the    government in order to increase the number of their
supporters within the civil and military administration in the
North. People with Non-Muslim names are often refused
employment within the administration. When someone applies he
is often asked whether he is a Muslim. Therefore few Christians
work inside the civil administration.417

       415
         For the Arabic text see NMSA (1995), p.25-26. The
translation has been provided by the Sudan Desk of the United
Nations' Human Rights Centre.
       416
             USSD (1995c), 1f
       417
             SCC (1993a), p.4; IISIC (1992); USSD (1995c), 5; Open

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     Many soldiers, approximately 85%, are southerners.418 In
the army nonetheless no Christian spiritual guidance is allowed
- only Islamic spiritual guidance is allowed.
     Most   Christians   regard  the   Christians  inside   the
                          419
government in the North       as "traitors" and "figureheads".
According to many this government does not employ anyone unless
they have a plan with him. The person in question is only
allowed to carry out this plan.420
     In the South some commanders of the government army forbid
their Christian soldiers to attend Churches. Soldiers are
severely punished when disobeying this order.421
     The regional governments in the South are dominated by
Southerners.422 The positions of vice-president and minister of

Doors (1996c), p.4; Amor (1994), p.80 and                      interviews   with
several church leaders and a Western diplomat.
     418
           Estimation made by a Western diplomat.
     419
        According to the state minister of the presidency there
are the following Christians in the administration: a vice-
president, a deputy-chairman of the national parliament, 6
national cabinet and state ministers, 40 members of the natio-
nal parliament, 7 governors (in southern states), majorities in
the regional parliaments in southern Sudan and 7 ambassadors
(Minister Atabani in CIPF (1994), p.4).
     420
         Several interviews with church leaders. One church
leader claimed that the Christian vice-president - George
Congor - secretly has converted to Islam.
     Some reliable sources also state that many high members in
the administration are figureheads and that the real power in
Sudan lies with the so-called council of 40 - this is an group
of NIF supporters some of whom have official positions within
the administration while others do not (Africa Confidential,
Vol. 36 No 14 (July 7, 1995), p.2; IISIC and interview with
employees of the Sudan Desk at the United Nations' Human Rights
Centre).
     421
           CSI (1995a), p.9 and interview with a Christian.
     422
        Since most educated Southerners are Christians, most of
the Southern politicians are also Christians.


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education, however, are reserved for NIF-supporters - who are
Muslims.423

* 3A
       In Northern Sudan the situation of Christians has improved
since 1994.424 Prior to this year several churches have been
closed because the government claimed the Christians had no
permits for this buildings.425 There has been no forced closure
of church buildings in the cities in Northern Sudan since 1994.
     In the areas in Khartoum where the displaced people live -
squatter areas in Khartoum and, increasingly, the displaced
camps around Khartoum426 - the situation of Christians is worse.
Christians had built so-called multiple-purpose-centres in
these areas. These centres were used for church services and
educational activities. Most of these centres have been
destroyed by the government in the squatter areas.427 In the
camps Christians are not allowed to built permanent buildings -

       423
             Interview with foreign observer.
       424
             Open Doors (1996b), p.20
       425
        Open Doors (1994), p.22; Open Doors (1996c), p.5; Amor
(1994), p.80 and interviews with several church leaders.
       426
        The displaced are people who fled either the war in the
South and the Nuba mountains or the drought in the West during
the 1980's. These people lived in squatter areas around
Khartoum. Some years ago the government started to relocate
these people to so-called displaced camps. The army entered the
squatter areas with bulldozers. They loaded the people in
trucks and destroyed all the houses with the bulldozers. The
people were relocated to the displaced camps, located in the
desert around Khartoum (see United Nations, Briefing Notes
 about the Khartoum Displaced Population, Khartoum, 1995).
       427
         Abdelmoula (1996), p.16 (states that the past three
years more than 30 churches have been closed down in the
displaced areas); Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No 3 (February 5,
1993), p.8 and several interviews with church leaders.


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i.e. anything other than a tent, like buildings made of mud.
The multiple-purpose-centres are made of mud and therefore
several have been destroyed by the government.428
     In the larger cities in the Nuba Mountains and the South
the situation is similar to the cities in the North.
     The situation in the villages, however, is much worse.
Especially from the Nuba Mountains there is a flow of reports
of churches that have been burnt - sometimes with Christians
inside.429 There are many reports of closed churches in Southern
villages also.430
     In the displaced and refugee camps in the Nuba Mountains -
the so-called peace villages - and the South Christians are
sometimes prevented from gathering.431

* 3B
     In 1962 the "Missionary Societies Act, 1962" was issued.
This law prescribed that a church needed a government permit to
build a new church. Since the early 1970's such a permit has
not been granted.432 Some church leaders stated that between
1970-1980 it was possible to bribe civil servants in order to
be condoned to build a new church. After 1980 this was not
       428
             Interviews with church leaders.
       429
         CSI (1995a), p.7 and CSI (1994), p. 3 both include
several testimonies of people who describe attacks on their
villages including the burning down of the churches. See also
African Rights (1995), p.5; USSD (1995c), 2c and several
interviews with church leaders - some of them Nuba's themselves
- and with Miss Nur Tawir Kafi.
       430
         SCC (1993b), p.6-7; CSI (1994), p.3; Soudan (1992b),
p.65 and CSI (1993), p.5 all give many examples. See also USSD
(1995c), 2c.
       431
             CSI (1993), p.5
       432
        USSD (1995c), 2c; MEC (1993), p.4 and interviews with
several church leaders.


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possible any more.


* 3C
     Christians are free to choose their own leaders without
any government intervention.433


* 3D
     Training Christian leaders inside Sudan is possible. Most
denominations have their own theological colleges. These are
located in the large cities. Several colleges exist in Khartoum
in the North and in Juba and Malakal in the South.434 Another
form of leadership training are special conferences that are
organised by several organisations.435

* 3E
     A recent visitor to Sudan concluded that "in general
churches are free to have meeting [sic] within their buildings
and compound."436
     In other buildings than the official buildings - like the
multiple-purpose-centres in the displaced areas - Christians
are   sometimes   forbidden to  gather   and  perform  their
           437
activities.
       433
             Interviews with several church leaders.
       434
         I visited the Catholic seminary and one Protestant
Bible school in Khartoum myself. The other institutes are
mentioned in Open Doors (1996b), p.21.
       435
             Op. cit.
       436
        Open Doors (1996b), p.20. See also ibid., p.29 where
the same conclusion is drawn for the churches in Renk in
Southern Sudan. Two church leaders of one of the largest
denominations in Sudan told me that in the larger cities in the
South churches have the freedom to do any Christian activity
inside their buildings.
       437
             African Rights (1995), p.5 and CSI (1993), p.5.


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                                          118
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* 3F
     Christians are free to import from abroad. However, they
are obliged to pay very high taxes, often more then Muslims.
The two main items of import are literature and food.
     Bibles and other Christian literature is imported by the
Sudanese Bible Society. They had to pay large import taxes
however, while Qurans were imported tax free. When they finally
threatened to make this discrimination known to the world, the
authorities agreed to give permission to import Bibles tax free
also. For other literature - including parts of the Bible - the
high taxes still have to be paid.438
     The Catholic Church, when confronted with the high taxes
and customs since 1989, decided to print the Bible in Sudan
itself (see question 4a). Other books are still being imported.
When these books arrive at the border the government takes a
sample and controls the content. If this sample is approved the
books can be collected otherwise the government destroys the
books.439
     Food aid is given to the displaced and people in the South
and the Nuba Mountains. Three parties distribute food: Islamic
organisations   (see    also   question    5I),   international
organisations and the Sudanese churches. When the churches want
to import food to distribute they have to pay high taxes.440 In
the past the government sometimes confiscated food from the
foreign organisations and gave it to the Islamic aid
organisations.441
       438
             Information has been derived from interviews.
       439
        Information has been derived from interviews. For the
criteria the government uses see question 4A.
       440
        Information has been derived from interviews and Open
Doors (1996b), p.20.
       441
             This information has been derived from interviews with

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* 3G
     There are many foreign Christians in Sudan, especially
many Catholic priests, friars and nuns. The present government
started to make life more difficult for them - especially
regarding the obtaining of visa's and workpermits.442 Every
foreign Christian has to renew his visa every three to six
months.443 Often the visa's are renewed in Khartoum. Usually
this takes a very long time and during this time the Christian
is not sure whether he will be expelled or not.
     In the rest of Sudan this is more difficult. In a
communique they released during a visit to the Vatican the
Roman Catholic bishops of Sudan revealed the expulsion of all
expatriate church personal from South Kordofan - i.e the Nuba
Mountains.   After  this   they   concluded:  "Gradually  and
systematically the missionary personal has been expelled from
other regions of Sudan, like, for instance, from Juba and even
from El-Obeid and from Khartoum."444
     Protestant missionaries are also obliged to renew their
visa regularly. During this process they are often interrogated
and threatened with expulsion.445 Two Protestant mission groups
have been expelled in 1990 - the Red Sea Mission and the


church leaders and employees of international aid agencies.
       442
             See for instance SCBC (1995), p.14-16.
       443
        Information has been derived from an interview with an
expatriate Roman Catholic priest.
       444
        "Graduellement et systématiquement, le personnel missi-
onaire était expulsé d'autres régions du Soudan comme par
example de Juba et même d'El Obeid et de Khartoum." Quoted in
Soudan (1992b), p.65. See also Amor (1994), p.80.
       445
         Information has          been    derived      from      interviews   with
Protestant missionaries.


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Navigators.446


* 4A
       The Bible is for sale in Sudan. The Sudanese Bible Society
has    a shop in Khartoum where Bibles and other Christian
literature are sold. The Roman Catholic Church has its own
department for the printing and distribution of Christian
books: "Palica".
     Everything Christians want to print has to be censored by
the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Bibles are always allowed.
Literature with the following subjects are always turned down
by the censors:447
  -  social issues (displaced             persons,     housing,   ethnic   ten-
     sions, etc.)
  - Christian social ethics
  - Islam from an Christian viewpoint
  - statistics of Christianity and Islam in Africa
  - politics


* 4B
     Christians are obliged to apply for a government permit
for outdoor activities.448 Outside Khartoum this permission is
usually refused. In Khartoum permission is sometimes granted.449
The government sometimes cancels a given permission shortly
before the event.
       446
             Open Doors (1996c), p.7.
       447
        Information has been derived from an interview with an
employee of Palica.
       448
         This and the following information has been derived
from interviews with several church leaders of the different
denominations, IISIC (1992) and Open Doors (1996b), p.20.
       449
         Sometimes only after threats of sending the written
refusal to co-religionists abroad.


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* 4C
     The Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference concluded: "The
Christian citizens in this country are terribly handicapped
because very little time is give [sic] for Christian Programs
on the national Radio and Television. Printed material in the
form of books, newspapers, magazines are severely censored, and
generally not permitted."450
     The Christians had received 25 minutes TV-time each week -
Sunday afternoon from 1:00 pm till 1:25 pm. This time was often
filled with a church service or parts of a Christian movie.451
After Christians made the program a government committee
reviewed it - this committee consists of Muslims. This
committee cut from the program every part it does not like. The
program was then broadcasted without consultation with the
makers - so the makers did not know what parts had been cut
until they saw their program on TV. Sometimes the programs were
not broadcasted - without prior notice.452
     The government had also granted the Christians 45 minutes
radio-time each week. The programs for the radio were rarely
censored.453 There are reports that sometimes the radio programs
were not broadcasted either - without prior notice.454
     According to a very reliable source who visited Sudan in
October 1996 the Christian radio and TV broadcasts are banned
from the national TV and radio since August 1995. According to
       450
             SCBC (1995), p.17
       451
             Open Doors (1996c), p.6
       452
         Information has been derived from several interviews
with Christians who are engaged in making the programs.
       453
        Interview with a Christian who is engaged in making the
programs.
       454
             Soudan (1992b), p.63; Amor (1994), p.81


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                                       122
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the government this was necessary because the national TV and
radio are broadcasted by sattelite since then. Since the
government is Islamic orientated they said they could not
broadcast Christian programms. Since this time the Christian
broadcasts are only allowed on local TV and radio.
     "The press was nationalized in 1970, and although there
have been brief periods of more freedom, by and large all
church-owned or sponsored newspapers and publications have been
suspended."455 The government has to grant permission prior to
publication for every publication that consists of more than
one page. If this permission is granted it is valid for six-
twelve months.456



* 4D
     In Sudan by and large most schools are government schools
- the government has nationalized most schools.457 Christians
can be exempted from Islamic education in the government
schools in Khartoum. If the parents or a church pay the salary
for a Christian teacher, the children are allowed to follow
Christian education.458 The teacher, however, has to use a
textbook that is published by the government. The churches
disagree with its content.459 The school often schedules
Christian classes in such a way that it is difficult to attend


       455
             Open Doors (1996c), p.6; see also IISIC.
       456
         Interview with a Christian who is engaged in the
printing department of one of the largest churches in Sudan.
       457
         Abdelmoula 1996), p.15; MEC (1993), p.5; Soudan
(1992a), p.68 and interviews with several church leaders.
       458
         Information has          been    derived      from      interviews   with
several church leaders.
       459
             SCBC (1995), p.12


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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

- e.g. during the same time as other subjects.460
     Also some church-run schools exist in the large cities -
almost all Catholic schools.461 These schools are obliged to ask
fees to cover the cost, while the government schools pro-
vide free education. Many parents can not afford these fees.
     These church-run schools are not permitted by the
government. The government opposes these schools and contra-
venes them.462 Many schools in the displaced areas have been
destroyed.463 Other schools have been confiscated.464 The church-
run schools have been Arabized like the government schools.
This means they are obliged to teach in Arabic - while for most
of their pupils Arabic is the second language.465
     In 1994 the government made kindergarten compulsory in
order to be allowed to enter primary education. The churches
are allowed to build their own schools while the government
builds so-called khalwas - i.e. Quranic schools. Except for the
Roman Catholic Church in the large cities, no church has the
means to built these schools.

     460
           Information derived from an interview with a church
leader.
     461
         Information has been derived from interviews with
church leaders and an employee of the Sudan Desk of the United
Nations' Human Rights Centre.
     462
        Information derived from an interview with an employee
of the Sudan Desk of the United Nations' Human Rights Centre.
See also Amor (1994), p.81.
     463
         Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No3 (February 5, 1993),
p.8; IISIC, Soudan (1992b), p.68 and interviews with several
church leaders.
     464
         Soudan (1992a), p.68;         Open    Doors    (1996b),   p.29   and
interviews with church leaders.
     465
        Amor (1994), p.81; Abdelmoula (1996), p.15; MEC (1993),
p.5; IISIC; Open Doors (1996c), p. 5; Zubair Wako (1991), p.2
and interviews with church leaders and Christian teachers.


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* 4E
     Christians are allowed to engage in aid to the displaced
and other victims of the war and the drought. The Roman
Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church have their own relief
agencies - Sudanaid and SUDRA respectively. The Sudan Council
of Churches is also active.
     The Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference concluded, how-
ever, that their humanitarian activities "have often been
curtailed and restricted."466 Sometimes security officers refuse
the Christian agencies entry to the camps. The govern-      ment
sometimes withhold its permission for certain activities. The
churches have to pay high taxes when they import food or other
aid (see also question 3F). Finally, areas exist - mainly in
the Nuba Mountains and in Southern Sudan - where the Christian
agencies are not allowed to come. In these places the Islamic
agencies with close ties to the government - Dacwa Islamiya,
IARA,467 Mowafuq and the Sudanese Red Crescent - are often the
only ones that are allowed to enter (see also question 5I).468


* 4F
     Children are officially not forced to attend Islamic
education. There are ways, however, by which the government
forces or try to persuade parents to send their children to
Islamic education.
     Many parents can not afford their children to attend the
Christian kindergartens. They have therefore the choice between
       466
        SCBC (1995), p.13. The following elaboration has been
derived from interviews with church leaders and Soudan (1992b),
p.65.
       467
             Islamic African Relief Agency
       468
         SCC (1993a), p.2 and              interviews      with   employees   of
international aid agencies.


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withholding education from their children or sending them to a
khalwa.469
     There are also many reports from the cities in the North
on the government rounding up children and forcibly submitting
them to Islamic education (see also question 5I).470
     When the government forces in the war zones capture a
village they take the entire population with them. The children
are often send to camps where they are forced to attend Islamic
education (see also question 5I).471
     The United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Sudan - dr. Biro
- reports on "cases in southern Sudan where those who
refused...to send their children to a khalwa, were killed."472
The government forces captured the Southern town of Lobonok at
the end of April 1995. Children were dressed in white djellaba
- i.e. Islamic dress - and were given Arabic names. A group of
ten people - parents who          refused to send their children to a
khalwa and their children          - were lined up and shot dead. The
children were 18, 15, 12,         10 and 7 years old. One of them - a
12 year old girl was raped        before she was killed.


* 5A
     Numerous sources report the "systematical"473 harassment of
Christians.  These   harassments include: torture, killing,
       469
         Information has been derived from interviews with
church leaders and an employee of UNICEF - the United Nations'
Childrens Fund.
       470
         Biro       (1995c),      p.13     and   interviews      with   western
diplomats.
       471
        African Rights (1995), p.3 and interviews with church
leaders from the war zones.
       472
             Biro (1995c), p.12
       473
        Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No 3 (5 February 1993), p.1
and Amor (1994), p.80.


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                                         126
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crucifixions, slavery and rape.
     The security forces in the North nowadays rarely torture
Christian church officials. At present, they are more concerned
with destroying buildings and restricting the freedom of
movement (see questions 3A and 5F).474 In the past the security
forces have been engaged in the arrest and torture of
Christians in the North. The accusation was often sympathizing
with the SPLA. The victims were often displaced Christians from
the Nuba Mountains or the South.475
     Christians are still harassed in the above-mentioned ways
in the Nuba Mountains and the South. These harassments are
often part of war efforts by the regular army, the PDF or Arab
tribes who have been armed by the government.
     There are many reports of church officials in these areas
who have been arrested and tortured.476 The charges brought
against them are often sympathizing with the SPLA or being an
infi- del.477
     The government forces often kill most men in the villages
they conquer. Sometimes the men are simply shot dead. Other
times they are locked up in their huts or in a church buil-
ding, after which these are set on fire. There are also many
reports of Christian leaders - like priests, catechists or
pastors - who are extra-judicially killed.478
     474
         Information     has    been    derived      from      interviews   with
church leaders.
     475
         MEC (1993), p.4; IISIC; Gassis (1995),                     p.3;    Amor
(1994), p.80 and interviews with church leaders.
     476
         CSI (1995a), p.9; African Rights (1995), p.3; MEC
(1993), p.3; Soudan (1992b), p.65; SCC (1993a), p.2; Africa
Confidential, Vol. 34 No3 (5 February 1993), p.8; Amor (1994),
p.80 and several interviews.
     477
        MEC (1993), p.3; Amor (1994), p.81 and interviews with
several church leaders.
     478
           Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No21 (2 October 1993), p.1;

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     There are also reports of Christians being crucified.479
The crucifixions I know of started in 1985 and continued until
1993. The people I have interviewed could not confirm whether
crucifixions still occur. Two Christians were sentenced to
crucifixion in 1995. This sentence provoked much protest in
Europe and the United States. Therefore these executions were
cancelled.480 Crucifixions are not only used as a means of
execution, but also as a means of torture.481
     The women and children in villages that the government
captures are often taken away. The children are often either
locally sold as slaves or taken to the North and hold as slaves
there.482 They are used in domestic service or as shepherds.
Girls are often being raped. The owners give the children new -
Arabic - names and forces them to become Muslims.
     The older girls and the women are taken to so-called peace
villages where they are subject to a systematic policy of rape
by Arab government forces.483 The purpose of this policy is to

CSI (1994), p.3-4; CSI (1995b), p.5; African Rights (1995),
p.3; Flint (1995) and several interviews with church leaders.
     479
        MEC (1993), p.4; CSI (1994), p.3-4; CSI (1995b), p.4;
Open Doors (1994), p.40-41 and several interviews.
     480
        Open Doors, No 269 (October 1994), p.4-5 and Open Doors,
 o
N 270 (November 1994), p.8. Information has also been derived
from an interview with an employee of the Sudan Desk of the
United Nations' Human Rights Centre.
     481
           MEC (1993), p.4
     482
         This and the following information has been derived
from several interviews with church leaders, Western diplomats,
employees of foreign aid agencies, mrs. Nur Tawir Kafi and an
employee of the Sudan Desk of the United Nations' Human Rights
Centre. See also NOB (1994); NOB (1995b), p.7-8; HRW (1995),
p.1-3; CSI (1994), p.3-4; NOB (1995a), P.18-20; Biro (1995c),
p.9-12; Soudan (1992b), p.65 and Abdelmoula (1996), p.15.
     483
        Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No21 (2 October 1993), p.1;
NOB (1995b), p.6; Flint (1995); De Temmerman (1993); MEC
(1994), p.8; CSI (1994), p.3-4; NOB (1995a), p.15; MEC (1993),

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create a new generation in the South and the Nuba Mountains of
Muslims with Arab features.484 Soldiers who have impregnated
three women or more receive a bonus.485 According to several
sources this policy is imitated from the ethnic cleansing
policies of the Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegowina.486
     The human rights organisation African Rights presents the
testimony of a seventeen-year-old girl in Mendi peace village
in the Nuba Mountains.487 She states: "After dark, the soldiers
came and took the girls to their rooms, and raped them. I was
taken and raped... When you have been taken, the soldier who
has taken you will do what he wants, then he will go out of the
room, you will stay, and another one will come. It continues
like this. There is different behaviour. Some lady, if she is
raped by four or five soldiers, she will cry from pain. Then,
if the soldiers are good, they will leave her. But others will
beat her to keep her quiet, and they will carry on. Every day
the raping continued... It is impossible to count the men who
raped me. It was continuous. Perhaps in a week I would have
only one day of rest. Sometimes one man will take me for the
whole night. Sometimes I will be raped by four or five men per

p.3; Biro (1995c), p.17; African Rights (1995), p.3-5; PCI
(1994), p.53 and several interviews with church leaders,
Western diplomats and an employee of the Sudan Desk of the
United Nations' Human Rights Centre.
     484
        African Rights (1995), p.3-5; Flint; De Temmerman and
interviews with Mrs. Nur Tawir Kafi and an employee of the
Sudan Desk of the United Nations' Human Rights Centre.
     485
        De Temmerman; NOB (1995a), p.15; Africa Confidential,
Vol. 34 No21 (2 October 1993), p.1; PCI (1994), p.53 and an
interview with Mrs. Nur Tawir Kafi.
     486
         Information has been derived from interviews with an
employee of the Sudan Desk of the United Nations' Human Rights
Centre and Mrs. Nur Tawir Kafi.
     487
           African Rights (1995), p.4-5.


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day or night; they will just be changing one for another... No
women were spared, even girls as young as nine years old were
raped."

* 5B
     Being a Christian is not prohibited by the law. Conversion
to Christianity, however, is a crime (see question 5G).
Although the sharica is only applied to Muslims offici-ally, it
is applied on Christians in practice (see question 1B).488
Another form of legal harassment is the denial of permits for
the construction of churches and Christian schools (see
question 3B).


* 5C
     Mgr. Wako concluded that Christians "feel discriminated
against at school."489 Christian pupils who do not take classes
in Islam will often be discriminated against. There are many
reports that they are failed in their exams.490


* 5D
     Christians inside the government are often discriminated
against (see question 2C). Foreign aid agencies are obliged to
apply for a work permit for their Sudanese personnel. If these
agencies want to employ a Christian this permit is often
refused.491 Furthermore, Non-Muslim businessmen complained of
petty harassment - through administrative policies - and

       488
        See for both the apostasy law and the application of
the sharica AI (1994).
       489
             CIPF (1994), p.2. See also Amor (1994), p.80.
       490
             IISIC and interviews with Christians.
       491
         Information has been derived from interviews with a
church leader and a Sudanese employee of a foreign aid agency.


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discrimination      in   the   awarding      of   government       contracts   and
                   492
trade licenses.
     Discrimination also occurs on the private labour market.493
Sometimes Christians are refused because they do not have
Muslims names, because the application contains questions from
the Quran they do not know or because the religion of the
applicant is asked. Many Non-Muslim women are obliged to wear
Islamic dress in their work place. Christians are also often
forced to work on Sunday.


* 5E
       In Sudan the sharica is applied (see question 1B). In
marital matters this means that a Christian woman is allowed to
marry a Muslim man.494 A marriage between a Christian man and a
Muslim woman, however, is forbidden.495 If a Muslim man converts
to Christianity his marriage will be dissolved and his wife
will be taken away from him.496
     I heard of one case of a Christian man in a city in
Northern Sudan who was married to a Muslim woman - they married
before the adoption of the sharica. When                         the authorities
discovered he was a Christian they first                         accused him of

       492
             USSD (1995c), 5
       493
         Mgr. Wako, in: CIPF (1994), p.2; Abdelmoula (1996),
p.16; IISIC (1992); Open Doors (1996c), p.4 and interviews with
several church leaders.
       494
        Personal Law for Muslims Act, 1991, art. 19(e) rules
that a Muslim man is allowed to marry a woman who is either a
Muslim, a Christian or a Jew (see Abdelmoula (1996), p.23).
       495
        According to the sharica a Muslim woman is allowed to
marry only a Muslim man (see Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1994), p.130-
131 and p.133).
       496
         Information has          been    derived      from      interviews    with
several church leaders.


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apostasy. He could prove, however, that he had never been a
Muslim. Consequently, his marriage was dissolved and his wife
was taken away from him.497

* 5F
     The Sudan Council of Churches concluded in a memorandum to
the United Nations that "Christian religious officials have
been continuously ...restricted in movement".498
     Sudanese Christians are often allowed to travel freely in
the North. If they want to travel to war zones they have to
apply for a travel permit which is often refused.499
     Indigenous Christians in the war zones have to apply for a
travel permit if they want to travel to the North or to the
surrounding villages. Often these permits are refused.500 As a
result many villages without their own pastor are deprived of
pastoral care for long periods.
     Indigenous Christians who want to travel abroad have to
apply for a exit visa. This visa is often denied or, if the
purpose of the travel is to attend a meeting, the visa is
granted when it is too late to attend the meeting.501
     Foreign church personal have to apply for a permit to
travel outside of Khartoum. This is not a problem in the North.
If they want to travel to the war zone, however, the permit is

       497
        Information has been derived from an interview with a
leader of one of the largest churches in Sudan.
       498
             SCC (1993a), p. 2
       499
         Information has been derived from interviews with
several church leaders; SCC (1993a), p.2-3; Open Doors (1994),
p.23 and Open Doors (1996b), p.20.
       500
             Open Doors (1996b), p.28 and several interviews.
       501
        Gassis (1995), p.3; Open Doors (1994), p.25 and several
interviews with church leaders.


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often denied.502


* 5G
     Article 126 (2) of the 1991 Penal Code states:
"Any person who has committed the offense of apostasy shall be
given a respite, the duration of which to be decided by the
court. If that person, though not newly converted to Islam,
insists on apostasy after the expiration of the duration of the
respite, he shall be punished by death."503
     In practice, Muslims who convert to Christianity are often
only arrested if someone files a complaint against them. Often
they are sentenced to death. There are, however, no reports of
the execution of this sentence. The converts are usually sent
to prison.


* 5H
     If someone converts from Islam504 to Christianity he may be
persecuted by both his family and by the state. The family will
sometimes ostracise the convert. It can also kill the convert
without being punished by the government. The convert will be
arrested if the family press charges against him. I know of
several occasions in Sudan where the family did not press
charges against a convert.505
       502
        See, for instance, Gassis (1995), p.3 where mgr. Gassis
reports that in 1994 no foreign Christians were allowed to
return to their places in the South and the Nuba Mountains.
The information has also been derived from several interviews
with both indigenous and foreign church officials.
       503
         Abdelmoula (1996), p.19. See also Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh
(1994), p.108-109 for the French translation of this article.
       504
        The government does not interfere with conversions of
animists to Christianity.
       505
         Information     has    been    derived      from      interviews   with
church leaders.


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       The   convert   is   sent    to    prison    after      someone   filed   a
complaint against him. In prison he is often pressured to
return to Islam. He will be released if he returns to Islam.
Sometimes money or food is offered to make him revoke his con-
version. Sometimes converts are tortured to press them to
revoke their conversion.506
     The government often dissolves the marriage of a convert.
His children will be taken away and given to the spouse of the
convert, or - if the spouse also converted - to the family.507
     An observer who visited Sudan recently508 reports the
harassment of Christians with a Muslim background who meet in
groups. The secret police raided several meetings of these
Christians and intimidated those present. Several people were
arrested and detained for a period. During detainment they were
interrogated about fellow Christians with a Muslim background
and they were also intimidated. Since these raids some of these
Christians are too afraid to attend the meetings again.


* 5I
     Christians in Sudan are pressured in many ways to change
their religion. The government uses the following means to try
to convert people to Islam.
     Prisoners are often told they will be released if they
convert to Islam. If they refuse they are sometimes tortured.509
       506
         Information has been derived from several interviews
with church leaders.
       507
         Information has           been   derived    from      interviews   with
several church leaders.

       508
        Information has been derived from talks with an Open
Doors observer who visited Sudan in October and November 1996.
       509
        Biro (1995c), p.17; Abdelmoula (1996), p.16; Open Doors
(1996c), p.5; PCI (1994), p.19 and interviews with several
Christians.


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     In the large cities - in all areas of Sudan - children are
abducted and send to special camps. In earlier times only
street children were abducted, but nowadays also other children
are taken away. Most victims are children with African
features. In these camps the children are given new Arabic
names and they are forced to convert to Islam and learn the
Quran by heart. Some children also receive military training
and are send to the front to fight.510


     Many boys and men are forced to join the PDF. In the North
every man under the 45 year's old has to follow three months of
training in PDF camps. During these training Christians are
forbidden to pray or conducted church services. They are also
indoctrinated in Islam and the perception of the war as a holy
war (jihad) against the infidels.511
     In Sudan four Islamic aid agencies exist with close ties
to the government - Dacwa Islamiya, IARA, Mowafuq and the
Sudanese Red Crescent. These organisation require Non-Muslims
to convert to Islam before they provide relief - food, medical
care or clothes. In some parts of Sudan no other organisations
are allowed to work (see question 4E). In these areas people
have the choice between converting to Islam and receiving aid,
or being deprived of aid.512
     510
         Puebla Institute (1995); Biro (1995b), p.8-10; Biro
(1995c), p.5, 13-15; PCI (1994), p.19 & 47; CSI (1995c), p.9-
10; HRW (1995), p.3; NOB (1994) and interviews with church
leaders.
     511
        Amor (1994), p.80; Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No21 (2
October 1993), p.3; Abdelmoula (1996), p.16; USSD (1995c), 2c;
PCI (1994), p.21 and interviews with church leaders.
     512
         African Confidential, Vol. 34 No3 (5 February 1993),
p.8; Africa Confidential, Vol. 34 No21 (2 October 1993), p.1;
USSD (1995c), 2c; Open Doors (1996b), p.20, 29; Open Doors
(1996c), p.4; PCI (1994), p.19 & 45 and several interviews with
church leaders.


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       Other means of forced conversion are slavery - Non-Muslim
children are often forced to convert to Islam (see question 5A)
and education - often pupils who refuse to take classes in
Islam are failed their exams (see question 5C).


* 5J
     Officially, Christians are legally equal to Muslims.513 In
practice, however, Christians are discriminated against in
numerous ways (see all questions of this questionnaire).




* 6A
     Christianity  is   heavily  persecuted  in   Sudan.  Many
Christians have died - either as a direct result of the war or
because of the persecution. There are also positive effects of
the persecution: the church has grown enormously (see §4.1.2),
many Christians have become more aware of their faith and -
especially in the war zones - Christian unity has been
strengthened.


                          §4.3 Analysis
       Christians are heavily persecuted by the government of
Sudan. The legislation is negative for Christians; the state
has a negative attitude towards Christians. Christians are
harassed physically and through the denial of permits - for
Christian activities, the construction of buildings and
literature. Many Christian institutions have been closed or
destroyed. Conversion of a Muslim to Christianity is prohi-
       513
         Atabani (1995) speaks about "the treatment of Non-
Muslims...on perfectly equal footing with Muslims." (p.68) The
same minister stated that according the constitutional decrees
in Sudan "neither religion, colour or ethnicity may be used as
a basis of discrimination" (CIPF (1994), p.3).


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bited. The government has a policy of forced Islamization.
     Much persecution occurs in the context of the civil war.
There are several causes for the war:
  - the historical division between the North and the South,
  - economic causes: most of the fertile grounds are located in
the Nuba Mountains or the South. The oil reserves are in the
South,
  - ethno-cultural reasons: the superiority of many Arab
     Northerners towards the African Nubas and Southerners. The
     government enforces a policy of forced Arabization,
 -   religious reasons: the government enforces a policy            of
     forced Islamization.
     The main cause is the combination of the ethno-cultural
factor and religion. These two are intertwined: most Arabs are
Muslims and most Africans are Non-Muslims. The Muslims in Dar
Fur, Blue Nile and Kordofan province are African in culture.
Therefore the government considers them to be nominal Muslims.
     The government characterizes the war in terms of Muslims
fighting a holy war against Non-Muslims. The most important
obstruction in the peace negotiations is the government's
refusal to withdraw the sharica law and turn Sudan into a state
with a secular government.514




     514
        See for instance Allan (1995), p.907. Notwithstanding
the government's claim to be an Islamic government, their
support is less than 10% of the population and the opposition
is dominated by Muslims. Most Muslims regard the government's
policies - massive extra-judicial killings, torture, forced
Islamization and massive rape - as contrary to the principles
of Islam.


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                                Conclusions


     In this chapter Syria, Libya and Sudan will be compared
with each other on the basis of the question which is posed in
the introduction: Who is persecuting who, in what way, and
why ?
     In Syria approximately 10% of the population is Christian.
Except for the Armenians and the Assyrians most of them are
Arab Syrians. In Libya approximately 3% of the population is
Christian. Almost all of them are foreigners - mainly Arabs,
Africans   and  Asians.   The  Christians   in   Sudan  number
approximately 10% of the population. Most of them are Africans
from Southern Sudan, but a considerable number are Arabs who
live in the North. Two million refugees from Southern and
Western Sudan have fled to the North. Many of them are Chris-
tians.


     As far as Christians in Syria are persecuted, all Chris-
tians are subjected to it. Converts from Islam are persecuted
in particular. There are also reports of some additional perse-
cution in North East Syria.
     In Libya also all Christians are subject to the same
persecution. The situation of a Libyan who would become a
Christian is uncertain.
     In Sudan all Christians are severely persecuted. The
situation of Christians in the war zones - Southern Sudan and
the Nuba Mountains - is worst. Under the cloak of warfare
against the rebels, Christians are heavily persecuted in these
areas.


        The main actors of the persecution in Syria and Libya are
the governments. Only in the cases of conversion often additi-
onal persecution by the family occurs. In Sudan, most of the



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persecution comes from the government and its militia - the
PDF. A second major actor of persecution are the Arab tribes in
Central and Southern Sudan that have been armed by the govern-
ment. They participate in government attacks on villages or
they conduct their own attacks. In the case of a convert the
family can also become an actor of persecution.

     The legal position of Christians is different in the three
countries. Syria is a secular state. Libya and Sudan are
Islamic states. The constitutions of all three countries
garantuee freedom of religion. In Syria the family law is the
only legislation that is based on the sharica. In Libya the
legislation is based on the Third International Theory of
Qadhafi - which is a mixture of Arab nationalism, socialism and
Islam. In Sudan most legislation is based on the sharica.
     In none of the countries Christians can expect a fair
trial if they bring charges against the government when they
feel discriminated against. Someone who persecutes a family
member that has converted to Christianity will not be
persecuted by the police.
     In Syria and Libya most existing churches are recognized
as religious institutions. The churches that are not recognized
in Libya are often permitted to gather. In Sudan the churches
are not recognized as religious institutions. The churches are
considered foreign non-governmental organisations.
     In Syria and Libya the government has a neutral attitude
towards their Christian citizens as long as they keep a low
profile. In Sudan the government has a very negative attitude
towards Christians. In all three countries Christians are
discriminated against when working inside the administration.
     Christians in all three countries are free to choose and
train their own leaders and to organise any non-political
activities in their buildings - these activities are closely



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monitored by the governments. In Syria Christians are free to
built new churches and to gather as a church. In Libya they are
prohibited to build new churches, but Christians are permitted
to gather both inside their church buildings and in private
homes. In Sudan Christians are not allowed to build new
churches and they are also not allowed to gather outside their
buildings. In Syria Christians are allowed to receive aid from
co-religionists   abroad    -   although    under   government
surveillance. In Sudan Christians are also allowed to receive
aid, but the government tries to discourage this by levying
high taxes. In Libya Christians are not allowed to receive
large amounts of goods from abroad. Small-scale imports are
permitted however. Christians in all three countries are
allowed to receive visiting Christians. Only Syria and Sudan
give some visa for foreign Christians to stay in the country
and work with the churches. Both countries however have re-
cently expelled many of these foreign Christians.
     In all three countries Christians are obliged to apply for
a permission to engage in outdoor activities. Processions are
possible in all contries - although the Syrian government gives
permissions for processions most easily. In Syria evangelistic
activities are only allowed in areas with a Christian majority.
In Sudan evangelistic activities are usually prohibited and in
Libya these are never allowed. In none of these countries
Christians are able to publicize without censorship or do they
have free access to the national media.
     In Sudan and Syria Christian schools exist; in Libya there
are foreign schools. So in all countries Christian children can
attend a Non-Muslim school. In Sudan, however, the government
tries to force Christian children to attend Islamic education.
In all three countries Christians are permitted to engage in
social work.
     In Syria and Libya the largest persecution against indi-



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vidual Christians is that they are not allowed to marry a
Muslim woman. In Syria conversion is allowed but discouraged -
it is not possible to change the registration of your religion.
In Libya and in Sudan conversion is forbidden and will be
persecuted by the government. In all three countries a convert
will often be persecuted by the family. In Sudan Christians are
physically and legally persecuted, discriminated against at
school and at work and pressured to convert to Islam.


     In Libya and Syria much persecution is the result of the
general repression in these countries. Therefore institutions
are closely monitored, publications are censored and the press
monopolized by the government. In Syria the government someti-
mes refuses Christians permits in order not to upset Muslims -
e.g. building a church in a Muslim area or for evangelistic
activities - or to preserve a balance between Christians and
Muslims - if the government allows Christians many schools and
social institutions it has to allow the Muslims the same.
     The Libyan government considers Christianity as a foreign
- i.e. Western - religion. Therefore foreigners are allowed to
adhere to it, as long as they keep a low profile and do not try
to evangelize among Libyans.
     Sudan has an Islamist government which pursues a policy of
forced Islamization of the country. Under the cloak of the
civil war everyone that opposes this regime is severely perse-
cuted, including the Christians.




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                                Appendix A


              QUESTIONNAIRE ON THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION

     The following questionnaire is based on declarations and
covenants515 of the United Nations. It is based on articles from
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on
the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimi-
 nation Based on Religion or Belief. The corresponding numbers
of the articles supporting each item follow in parentheses. The
following abbreviations are used: U = Universal Declaration on
Human Rights, D = Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms
of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or
Belief, I = International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights.516

BLOCK 1: Legal status of Christians
1A. Does the constitution guarantee               freedom      of   religion   ?
    (U art.7 & 18, D art.4 & 7, I art.1 & 18.1)
1B. Is the constitution based on anti-Christian convictions
    (e.g. sharica law) ? (U art.7 & 18, D art.4 & 7, I art.1 &
    18.1)

     515
        The difference between a declaration and a covenant is
that a declaration is voted on by the General Assembly only,
whereas a covenant needs to be signed and ratified by
individual states after its adoption by the General Assembly. A
declaration has no legally binding character. It only sets a
standard and has some morally binding character, but there are
no sanctions for failing to comply with the standards. A
covenant has a binding character for the states which ratified
it. The Human Rights Committee controls the appliance of the
covenant and has the power to impose sanctions if a state fails
to comply.
     516
           Sudan, Libya and Syria all ratified this covenant.


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1C. Do Christians have the opportunity to go to court when
      they feel their religious freedom is being violated and
      will they get a fair trial ? (U art.8-11, D art.7,
      I art.1)


1D. Are churches legally recognised as a religious institu-
    tion? (U art.18 & 20, D art.1 & 6a, I art.18.1)

BLOCK 2: Position of the state
2A.  What kind of attitude does the state have towards
     Christians ? (U art.28 & preamble, D art.2 & 4, I art.1)
2B. Are churches severely monitored by state organisations ?
    (U art.19 & 20, D art.2)
2C. Are Christians being discriminated against when working
    inside the administration, government, army ? (U art.21,
      D art.2.1 & 4)


BLOCK 3: Church organisation
3A. Are Christians free to gather as a church ? (U art.18 &
     20, D art.1 & 6a, I art.18.1)
3B. Are Christians free to build/open churches ? (D art.6a)
3C. Are Christians free to choose their own religious leaders?
     (D art.6g)
3D. Are Christians free to train their own religious leaders
     in sufficient numbers in-country ? (D art.6e & 6g)
3E. Are Christians free to organise any Christian activity
     inside their buildings ? (U art.18, D art.1, I art.18.1)
3F. Are Christians free to receive aid from foreign Christian
      organisations ? (D art.6f & 6i)
3G.   Are Christians free to receive               foreign    Christians   ?
      (D art.6f & 6i)


BLOCK 4: Role of the church in society



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4A. Are Christians allowed to produce and distribute religious
      literature and audio-visual material without censorship ?
      (U art.19, D art.6d)
4B.   Are Christians free to organise any Christian activity
      outside the church buildings ? (U art.18, D art. 1,
      I art.18.1)
4C.   Do Christians have the freedom             to    use    national   media
      (press, TV, radio) ? (D art.6d)


4D. Are Christian parents allowed to send their children to a
     Christian school ? (U art.26.3, D art.5, I art.18.4)
4E. Are Christians allowed to perform charitable/social work ?
     (D art.6b)
4F. Are Christian children forced to attend Islamic education?
     (U art.26.3, D art.5.2, I art.18.2)


BLOCK 5: Situation of individual Christians
5A. Are Christians being physically persecuted                   because   of
     their faith? (U art.3 & 5, D art.4)
5B. Are Christians being legally persecuted because of their
     faith ? (U art.18, D art.4, I art.18.1)
5C. Are Christians being discriminated against at school
     because of their faith ? (D art.4)
5D. Are Christians being discriminated against at work because
     of their faith ? (D art.4)
5E. Are Christians allowed to marry Non-Christians ? (U art.
     16, D art.4)
5F. Are Christians free to travel both inside the country and
     abroad for religious purposes ? (U art.13, I art.12)
5G. Are Non-Christians legally allowed to become Christians ?
     (U art.18, D art.1, I art.18.1)
5H. Are Non-Christians persecuted if they become a Christian?
      (U art.18, D art.1, I art.18.1)



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5I.   Are   Christians    put    under     pressure      to   change   their
    religion ? (U art.18, D art.1.2, I art.18.2)
5J. Are Christians legally equal to Muslims ? (U art.7, D
    preamble & art.3 & 4 & 7)


BLOCK 6: Other factors limiting the lives of Christians
6A. Has the church been seriously weakened because of
     persecution in this country ?




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                                Appendix B


                   CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST517


     This    appendix   is    meant    to   clarify      the   denominational
structure of Christianity in the Middle East. This structure is
often somewhat obscure for Westerners because of two reasons.
First, most Christians in the Middle East belong to denomi-
nations which do not exist in the West, except in expatriate
communities. Second, the meaning of some ecclesiastical terms
differs in the Middle East and in the West.
     The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) groups the
Christians in the Middle East into five so-called "church
families". A church family is a group of "churches in the
region which have a common ecclesiastical tradition and are in
communion with one another".518 The families are:
     1. The Assyrian Church of the East519
     2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches520
     3. The Eastern Orthodox Churches521
     517
        This appendix is largely based on: Horner (1989); MECC
(1986a), p.8-22 and MECC (1990a), p. 73-102. The number of
Christians are also derived from these sources. However, these
numbers are approximations, since there are no completely
reliable statistics on the number of Christians in the Middle
East.
     518
        MECC (1986a), p.9. In this article the church families
are ranked according to their number. For explanatory reasons I
will use a chronological ranking.
     519
         In addition to this name five other names have been
variously used throughout history for this denomination: East
Syrian Church, Church of Persia, Chaldean Church, Nestorian
Church and Assyrian Church (Horner (1989), p.20).
     520
        Sometimes these churches are also called Non-Chalcedo-
nian Orthodox Churches or Monophysite Churches (Horner (1989),
p.24).
     521
           Sometimes this denomination is also called Chalcedonian

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     4. The Catholic Churches
     5. The Protestant and Episcopal Churches

     In the first centuries of Christianity there was only one
church (there were some schisms, like the Donatists and others,
but they were relatively small and they all disappeared). The
church had bishops in the major towns. In the Byzantine Empire
the bishops of the church were appointed by the emperor.
     In the fourth century people began to think about the so-
called "hypostatic union of Christ".522 Several times the bis-
hops gathered in a so-called ecumenical council to discuss this
question.


               1. The Assyrian Church of the East
     The first climax in the conflict over the relation between
the two natures of Christ occurred at the third ecumenical
council (in Ephesus, 431 A.D.).      This council discussed two
      523
views:    one advocated by Nestorius and one advocated by Cyril.
Nestorius was bishop of Constantinople. He said that God cannot
be conceived by a human being and therefore Mary did not bear
God. She bore a man who was a vehicle for God. Cyril was bishop
of Alexandria. He reacted strongly against the statements of
Nestorius who he accused of heresy. The Council of Ephesus
agreed with Cyril and condemned the view of Nestorius.524 In the

Orthodox Church or Greek Orthodox Church (Horner (1989), p.8).
     522
        Christianity teaches that Christ has two natures (hypo-
stases): He is both fully human and fully divine. The question
of the hypostatic union is concerned with the question of how
these natures relate to each other.
     523
        For the christological views at the Council of Ephesus
see Erickson (1987), p.726-730
     524
        Nestorius probably did not adhere to the view which was
condemned at the Council of Ephesus (although some of his
followers did and his views logically led to it). It is the

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second half of the 6th century the church in Persia did adopted
the views of Nestorius.




     Nowadays this church has spread all over the world. It
counts about 250,000 people525 with 8 bishoprics: Iraq (82,000),
Syria (30,000), Iran (20,000), Lebanon (5,000), India (15,000)
Australia (15,000), the USA and Canada (80,000) and Europe
(4,500).

                  2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches
     The second major schism from the main church took place at
the Council of Chalcedon526 twenty years later (451 A.D.). The
view in discussion at this council was Dioscoros', the
successor of Cyril as bishop of Alexandria. It was defended by
a pupil of Dioscoros by the name of Eutyches.
     Dioscoros defended the view of Cyril in such an extreme
form it became a heresy. He advocated the view that Christ had
only one nature: that of "God made flesh". He did not deny
Christ was both human and divine, but he taught that the huma-
nity of Christ was so absorbed into His deity as if it were
virtually eliminated.
     The council condemned this view because it emphasized         the
deity of Christ at the expense of His humanity. The council        did
not make a proper distinction between the views of Cyril           and
Dioscoros. The council therefore also condemned the view            of

judgement of leading scholars that some poorly chosen termino-
logy together with the opposition of an aggressive opponent led
to an unjust condemnation of his views.
     525
           This information is quoted from MECC (1990a), p.98
     526
        For the christological views at the Council at Chalce-
don see Erickson (1987), 728-730


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Cyril.
     The council issued the famous "two natures in one                       person"
statement: "one and the same Christ[...] made known                          in two
natures   without  confusion[...] without division,                          without
separation[...] but the property of each nature being                        preser-
ved".527
     Many Christians, however, sticked to the view of Cyril.
They formed528 their own churches. The "Non-Chalcedonian" Chris-
tians in Egypt formed the Coptic Orthodox Church, those in
Armenia the Armenian Apostolic Church529 and those in Syria the
Syrian Orthodox Church.530
     The Coptic Orthodox Church531 is the largest Christian
community in the Middle East. It numbers approximately
6,000,000 people divided over 47 dioceses in Egypt, Africa,
Middle East, Europe en North America.
     The Armenian Apostolic Church is divided in two centres
(because of historical circumstances, not because of liturgical
or doctrinal differences): the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin
(Armenia) and the Catholicosate of Cilicia. The Catholicosate
           527
                 Erickson (1987), p.730
     528
         The formation of            these     churches     was     a   process   of
approximately 150 years.
     529
         Sometimes also          called     the    Armenian       Orthodox   Church
(Horner (1989), p.25)
     530
        Some Oriental Orthodox Churches and Chalcedonian Chur-
ches have recently settled their theological disputes: 12
February 1988 a Joint Commission of the Catholic Churches and
the Coptic Orthodox Church signed a statement in which they
agreed on a formulation of the relations between the divine and
the human nature of Christ (see MECC Newsreport (September
1988), p.4). A delegation of the World Assembly of Reformed
Churches and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches signed a similar
statement on 15 September 1994 (see Trouw (16 September 1994),
p.10).
     531
           This information is based on MECC (1990a), p. 77


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of Etchmiadzin (4,000,000)532 is the spiritual centre          for the
Armenians living in the former Soviet Union. In addition to the
former Soviet Union it also has jurisdiction of communities in
the Middle East ( Iraq 15,000 and Egypt 20,000), France, the
USA, South America and Australia. The Armenian Patriarchate of
Constantinople (80,000) and the Armenian Patriarchate of
Jerusalem (3,000) are also dependent on the Catholicosate of
Etchmiadzin.
     The jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of Cilicia (centre
in Antelias, Lebanon) now covers Lebanon (150,000), Syria
(100,000), Cyprus (3,500), Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates
(12,000), Iran (170,000), Europe and North America (600,000).



     The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the
East numbers 160,000. There are four dioceses in Syria, two in
Iraq, two in Turkey, two in Lebanon, one in Israel (including
the Occupied Territories) and also in Europe, North America and
South America. There is also a large Syrian Orthodox community
in Kerala state, India - the so-called Malabars - who number
more than one million.


                 3. The Eastern Orthodox Church
     In 1054 another schism took place within the main church.
In this year the conflict between Rome and Constantinople led
to a break between these two cities, culminating in the mutual
excommunication of the bishops who were appointed by the other
city. From then on there existed two Church centres: Rome
(centre of the Roman Catholic Church) and Constantinople
(centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church). Three patriarchates
were connected with the latter: the patriarchate of Jerusalem,

     532
           MECC (1986a), p.10


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of Alexandria and of Antioch.
     With the earlier schisms doctrinal issues played a more
important role than politics. With this schism, however,
doctrinal differences played a minor role. The main point of
discussion was which church had more importance and power, the
one in Constantinople or the one in Rome.
     The Eastern Orthodox Churches differ from the Oriental
Orthodox Churches in two important aspects.533 First, in their
theology, the Eastern Orthodox recognize the authority of the
first seven ecumenical councils (i.e. all the councils before
1054) while the Oriental Orthodox recognize the authority of
only the first three ecumenical councils (i.e. the councils
before 451). Second, in their polity, the Eastern Orthodox
recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as "Ecumenical
Patriarch", i.e. first among equals. This is a largely
honourary primacy (quite different from the Catholic concept of
papal authority).


     At present, the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Middle East
is divided in four patriarchates: Constantinople, Alexandria,
Antioch and Jerusalem.
     The Patriarchate of Constantinople numbers 4,700,000
people.534 About 8,000 live in Turkey. The others lives in
Europe (mainly Greece) and the Americas.
     The Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa counts about
100,000 people of which only 10,000 live in the Middle East.535
There are four dioceses in Egypt, one archdiocese for North
Africa and one in Sudan. The others live in Central or South
Africa.
     533
           Horner (1989), p.8
     534
           See MECC (1990a), p.96 and Horner (1989), p.16 & 96
     535
           See Horner (1989), p. 14-15


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     The Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East numbers more
than 3,000,000 persons.536 About one million of these live in
the Middle East: Syria (800,000), Lebanon (300,000) and Iraq
and Kuwait (30,000). The rest of this patriarchate live in the
diaspora in Australia, New Zealand and North and Latin America.
     The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has jurisdiction over Israel
(including the Occupied Territories) and Jordan and numbers
250,000 people.537


                   4. The Catholic Churches
     The Catholic Churches are divided in two groups: the
Latin-rite Catholic Church and the Eastern-rite - or Uniate -
Catholic Churches.
     The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem538 was established in
1099 by the crusaders and has continued to date. The term
latin-rite does not mean that their liturgical language is
Latin (mostly it is not). It means that they use the liturgical
form of the Roman Catholic Church in the West. In most
countries of the Middle East the majority of the Latin-rite
Catholics are expatriates. In some countries, however, native
Latin-rite Catholics form a majority over the expatriates, e.g.
Syria and Sudan. The Arab Latin-rite Catholics number about
110,000.
     The Eastern-rite or Uniate Catholic Churches separated
from the different churches mentioned above and united with the
Roman Catholic Church. Two important factors contributed to


     536
           See MECC (1990a), p.81
     537
           See MECC (1990a), p. 82
     538
         The Patriarchate of Jerusalem consists only of the
Latin-rite Catholics in Israel, the Occupied Territories and
Jordan. In the other countries there are Latin-rite bishops who
are directly appointed by the pope.


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these   separations:539   the    theological      controversies   inherited
from the fifth century and the missionary activities of Rome
from the thirteenth century onwards. Five different Eastern-
rite Catholic churches were thus established as new patriar-
chates: Chaldean Catholics (from the Assyrian Church of the
East) in 1830, Greek Catholics or Melkites (from the Eastern
Orthodox Church) in 1724, Armenian Catholics (from the Armenian
Apostolic Church) in 1740, Syrian Catholics (from the Syrian
Orthodox Church) in 1773 and the Coptic Catholics (from the
Coptic Orthodox Church) in 1895. A sixth Eastern-rite Catholic
Church, the Maronite Church, rejects the name Uniate because it
claims to have been in communion with Rome from its foundation
early in the fifth century.540
     The Eastern-rite Catholic Churches have in common with the
Latin-rite Catholic Church that they recognize the doctrine of
the Roman Catholic Church - including the verdict of the
Council at Chalcedon. They differ from the Latin-rite Catholics
in that they use the rites of the Orthodox churches they
originally came from.




     The Chaldean Church is the largest Christian community in
Iraq (± 220,000).541 In the rest of the Middle East there are

     539
           Horner (1989), p.36-37
     540
        There is no doubt about their communion with Rome from
the latter part of the twelfth century onwards, but the ac-
counts of earlier centuries are obscure.
     541
         The number of the Chaldeans in Iraq is quoted from
Horner (1989), p.106, their number in the USA is quoted from
ibid., p.41, their numbers in the Middle East are quoted from
MECC (1990a), p.85.


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also Chaldean Christians in Iran (15,000), Syria (7,000) and
smaller communities in Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. There is also
a widespread Chaldean diaspora in the West: USA (50,000) and
several communities in Europe, Australia and Canada.
     The Melkite Church542 is concentrated in Lebanon (260,000),
Syria (100,000) and Israel (including the Occupied Territories)
(44,000). Smaller communities exist in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey,
Iraq and North Sudan. In the West most of the Melkites live in
North and South America (more than 200,000).
     The Armenian Catholic Church543 in the Middle East numbers
about 35,000 people, mostly in Lebanon and Syria. In addition
to this number there are small communities in Turkey, Iraq,
Egypt, Israel and Jordan. In Europe and the Americas there
exist small communities too.
     The Syrian Catholics number about 100,000544 in the Middle
East, mostly in Iraq (31,000), Syria (20,000) and Lebanon
(20,000). There are also smaller communities in Egypt, Jordan,
Turkey and Sudan. Like all other churches in the Middle East
this church is subject to a large diaspora to the West.
     The Coptic Catholic Church has a constituency of about
100,000 people.545 By far the most of these live in Egypt. The
rest (less than 2,000) live in Libya, Algeria, Kuwait and the
diaspora in Europe and the Americas.
     The Maronite Church numbers approximately 6,200,000
people.546 Most of them live in the diaspora (5,000,000), in the
     542
         The number of Melkites in the Middle East has been
quoted from Horner (1989), p.102-117. Their number in the
Americas has been quoted from op. cit., p. 44.
     543
           See MECC (1990a), p.84
     544
           See Horner (1989), p.100
     545
           See Horner (1989), p.51
     546
           See MECC (1990a), p.88


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Americas and a few in Central Africa. About 1,200,000 Maronites
live in the Middle East. By far the most of them live in
Lebanon. In addition, there are Maronites in Syria, Egypt and
Cyprus.


           6. The Protestant and Episcopal Churches547
     These churches originated from the Western Protestant
traditions. They are the most recently established churches -
nowhere earlier than the first quarter of the nineteenth
century - and the smallest churches - about 2.5% of the
Christians in the Middle East.548 The vast majority of their
members originally come from the Orthodox and Eastern-rite
Catholic Churches or are expatriates.
     Most Protestants549 live in Sudan (270,000, mainly Episco-
pal), Egypt (135,000, mainly Presbyterian), Lebanon (22,000,
mainly Presbyterian) and Syria (18,000 mainly Presbyterian).
For a overview of the different Protestant denominations see
Horner (1989), p.65-82.




     547
        Most protestant churches in the Middle East call them-
selves Evangelical Churches. So an Evangelical Church in the
Middle East can be a traditional protestant church or an evan-
gelical church - in the western sense of the word. The Epis-
copal Church is called Anglican Church in Europe.
     548
           See MECC (1990a), p.89
     549
         The following       numbers    have    been    quoted   from   Horner
(1989), p.100-101


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                               Appendix C
                               INTERVIEWS

     A large amount of the information that is presented in
this thesis has been derived from interviews and personal
observations in several countries in the Middle East and Europe
between July 1995 and January 1996 and from interviews in the
Netherlands before and after this period.


     In the Netherlands I met with Rev. Sirisio Oromo and Dr.
Patrick Sookhdeo. Rev. Oromo is a pastor of the Africa Inland
Church (South Sudan) and vice-chairman of the New Sudan Council
of Churches.550
     Dr. Sookhdeo is director of the International Institute
for the Study of Islam and Christianity (in London).


                            1. Egypt
     During the above-mentioned period I stayed in Egypt for 61
days (5 days in Alexandria and 56 days in Cairo). Concerning
Sudan, I had several meetings with Mr. C. Hulsman (Middle East
correspondent of Dutch radio and several Dutch newspapers), and
Mrs. Nur Tawir Kafi (chairperson of the Nuba Mountains
Organisation   aBroad   (NOB),  a   Sudanese   Non-Governmental
Organisation. I also met with dr. Tigani and dr. Hamadi (of the
Sudanese Human Rights Organisation), one Sudanese leader of a
protestant church in Sudan and one Egyptian Christian who
regularly visits Sudan.
     Concerning Libya I met three foreign (i.e. Non-Egyptian)
Christians who do research on the situation of Christianity in
Libya (they have good contacts with the Arab, Asian, Western

     550
         The New Sudan Council of Churches in the Council of
Churches in the territories that are under control of the
resistance movements in Southern Sudan.


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and   African   Christians    in   Libya).      I   also      spoke   with   two
Egyptian Christians who have good contacts with Egyptian
Christians in Libya. Finally, I met one Egyptian Coptic
Christian who has been raised in Libya and who still resides in
Libya several months of each year.


                           2. Sudan
     I spent one month in Sudan. During this time I visited two
camps of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF)551 (one in Atbara and
one in Dongola) and two "displaced camps"552 around Khartoum,
where I spoke with several people. The rest of my time in Sudan
I stayed in Greater Khartoum. I met with twenty Christians
(both clergymen and laymen of the Roman Catholic, the Episcopal
and Protestant churches). I also met with several people of
Dacwa Islamiya553, seven people of the United Nations, one person
of an international non-governmental organisation554 and four
Western and one Arab diplomate.


                                 3. Libya
     I spent only four days in Libya, during which I attended a
press conference of col. Qadhafi in Sirte. During this period I
      551
        The PDF is a government militia that consists of people
who have received military and ideological training. Officially
all members of the PDF are volunteers, but actually forced
conscriptions occur regularly (see also chapter 4).
      552
        Many refugees fled from the war in the South and the
drought in the West and went to Khartoum where they lived in
shantytowns. After a while the government started to destroy
these shantytowns and deported these refugees to camps in the
desert around Khartoum. These camps are called `displaced
camps' (see also chapter 4).
      553
          An Islamic non-governmental organisation with close
ties with the government.
      554
        At the request of this person I cannot state the name
of this organisation.


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spoke    with   several   Western     and   Arab     journalists   who   also
attended this press conference.

                              4. Syria
        I spent 42 days in Syria. I visited Damascus, Homs, Hama,
Muhardeh and Aleppo. During this time I met 20 Syrian Christi-
ans (both clergymen and laymen of all the different denomina-
tions, except the Maronites, Assyrians, the Chaldeans and the
Armenian Orthodox and Catholics) and 8 foreign Christians
(Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox).
I also met with two Western diplomats, one journalist and a
foreign woman who was doing research on Christianity in Syria.


                              5. Malta
        I spent 22 days in Malta. Here I met two Roman Catholics
and two Protestants who regularly visit Libya and the churches
in Libya, a representative of the Maltese Bible Society555, a
leader of the World Islamic Call Society (WICS)556 and a leader
of one of the largest churches in Libya.


                           6. Cyprus
     I spent 6 days in Cyprus (Limassol) where I visited the
bookstore, the documentation department and the secretariat of
Human Rights, Justice and Peace of the Middle East Council of
Churches.

                          7. Switzerland
        I spent 10 days in Switzerland. I visited the office of


     555
         Since there is no Libyan Bible Society the Maltese
Bible Society is also responsible for Libya.
     556
        The WICS is an Islamic organisation founded by Libya to
propagate the ideas of Qadhafi.


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Christian Solidarity International557 (in Zurich). In Geneva I
met with dr. Tarik Mitri (executive secretary of the Office on
Inter-Religious Relations of the World Council of Churches) and
with co-workers of the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on
Sudan and the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on the
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and
of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.



     In another country558 I spoke with Mr. Settle, the director
of Middle East Concern.559


     After I returned to the Netherlands I have had written
interviews with Sami A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (see bibliography),
W. de Smet (the director of Kirche in Not, the German branch of
Aide à l'Église en Détresse, an international Roman Catholic
organisation) and with a Roman Catholic friar that regularly
visits Libya and has personal contact with the bishop in Libya.




     557
        International Christian organisation that is concerned
with human rights issues and development aid. They are very
active in Sudan.
     558
        At the request of mr. Settle I cannot state the name of
this country.
     559
        An international Christian Organisation concerned with
the human rights situation of Christians in the Middle East.


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                                 BIBLIOGRAPHY


GLOSSARY:
   AI = Amnesty International
  CIA = Central Intelligence Agency
 CIPF    =   Council for International People's Friendship
  CSI    =   Christian Solidarity International
  HRW    =   Human Rights Watch
IISIC    =   International Institute for the Study of Islam and
       Christianity
 MEC = Middle East Concern
MECC = Middle East Council of Churches
 MEW = Middle East Watch
NMSA = Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad
 NOB = Nuba Mountains Organisation aBroad
  PCI    =   Pax Christi International
 SCBC    =   Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference
  SCC    =   Sudan Council of Churches
UNHCR    =   United Nations High Commission for Refugees
USSD = United States State Department
WICS = World Islamic Call Society


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                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

        Missione (Jan. 1996), 61
* AI, The Penal Code: Human Rights Violations Enshrined in
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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

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* Deng, F.M., We Must End the War: A Soul-searching Quest for
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* Evans, W., History of the Church in North Africa, 1995
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* Flint, J., "Holy War in Sudan's Hills", Guardian Weekly,
    July 30, 1995, 5



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* Fluehr-Lobban, C., "Islamization in Sudan: a Critical
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* Georger, A., L'Église Antique de l'Afrique du Nord
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       6, 1996), 1-2
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*    Harris, L.C., Libya:        Qadhafi's     Revolution        and   the   Modern
       State, London, 1986
*    Hermans, D., Christenen in het Midden-Oosten: Is er nog
       Plaats voor Hen? (Christians in the Middle East: Is there



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                                       164
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

        Still Room for Them?), Tilburg, 1991
* Hopwood, D., Syria 1945-1986: Politics and Society, London,
     1988
* Horner, N.A., A Guide to Christian Churches in the Middle
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     North Africa, Elkhart (Indiana), 1989
* Hourani, A., Minorities in the Arab World, London, 1947
* HRW, Children in Sudan: Slaves, Street Children and Child
     Soldiers, New York, 1995
*    Hulsman, C., Human Rights and Political Developments in
       Sudan: January 1 1995 - July 1 1995, Cairo, 1995 (not
       published)
* IISIC, "Sudan", in: ibid., The Status of the Church in the
     Muslim World, London, 1992, n.p.
* J_bar al-Jaz_'ir_, Abu Bakr, Y_ cUlama' al-Isl_m Aft_n_
     (Scholars of Islam, Let Us Issue a Fatwa), Medina,
     July 3, 1992
* Johnstone, P., Operation World, Grand Rapids, 1993
* Jomier, J., Pour Connaître l'Islam, Paris, 1988


* Kelidar, A.R., "Religion and State in Syria", Asian Affairs,
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* Kennedy, H., The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The
     Islamic Near East from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century,
     New York, 1986
* Kooij, C., Islam in Qadhafi's Libya, Amsterdam, 1980
* Laffin, J., The Arab Mind: a Need for Understanding, London,
     1975
* Latourette, K.S., A History of the Expansion of Christiani-
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* Lavergne, M. (ed.), Le Soudan Contemporain, Paris, 1989
* Levtzion, N., "Towards a Comparative Study of Islamization",
     in: ibid., Conversion to Islam, London, 1979, 1-23



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                                       165
                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

 --,    "Conversion   to   Islam   in     Syria   and   Palestine   and   the
       Survival of Christian Communities", in: Gervers, M. &
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       Christian Communities in Islamic Lands, Eighth to Eigh-
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* Lewis, B., The Middle East: 2000 Years of History, from the
     Rise of Christianity to the Present Day, London, 1995
* Maalouf, A. , Les Croisades, Vues par les Arabes, Paris,
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* Magro, S., "Religious Tolerance in Libya", in: Pontifical
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     Catholic Church in Tripoli)
* Mayer, A. E., Islam and Human Rights: Traditions and
     Politics, London, 1991
* MEC, Sudan's Crisis of Faith, Loughborough (UK), 1993
  --, Sudan's Killing Fields, Loughborough (UK), 1994
* MECC, "Who are the Christians of the Middle East?", MECC
    Perspectives, No6/7 (October 1986), 8-22 (Cited: MECC
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 --, "The Challenge of Christian Emigration", MECC Perspec-
    tives, No6/7 (October 1986), 23-24 (Cited: MECC 1986b)


 --, "Middle East Church Directory", in: Vth General Assembly
    (22-29 January 1990), 73-102 (Cited: MECC 1990a)
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* MEW, Syria Unmasked: the Suppression of Human Rights by the



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                                    166
                     St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

        Asad Regime, London, 1991
* Michel, T., "Differing Perceptions of Human Rights", in:
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* Mitri, T., Prospects for Muslim-Christian Co-Existence in
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* Monshipoury, M., "Islamic Thinking and the Internationaliza-
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* Muhammad, O.N., "Muslim-Christian Relations", Ecunemism, 116
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* An-Na`im, A.A., "Human Rights in the Muslim World: Socio-
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* Nasir, J.J., The Islamic Law of Personal Status, London,
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* News Network International (press releases of the press
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*    Niblock, T. Class and Power in Sudan: the Dynamics of
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*    Njuguna, O., "Churches in Southern Sudan Vow to Uphold
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* NMSA, Save the Nuba Peoples from Ethnic Cleansing, London,
     1995



* NOB, Atf_l an-N_ba bayna al-cAmaliy_t al-cAskariya wa ar-Riq
        (Nuba Children: between Military Service and Slavery),
        Cairo, 1994
    --, The Ethnic Cleansing of the Nuba People of Central
       Sudan (1985-1995), Cairo, 1995 (Cited: NOB 1995a)



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    --, Eradication of the Nuba Women and Children of the
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* Nyot Kok, P., "Codifying Islamic Absolutism in the Sudan: a
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    --, Tripreport Sudan, 1996 (not published) (Cited: Open
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* Ostling, R.N., "Fear in the First Churches", Time, April 23,
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* Ploquin, J.C., "Les Chrétiens de Syrie en Quête de Polyp-
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*    Qadhafi, M., The Green Book Part Three: The Social Basis



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                                       168
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                                       169
                         St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

          North   West    Africa",     in:    Near    East    School   of   Theology
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* Valognes, J.P., Vie et Mort des Chrétiens d'Orient:                           Des



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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

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* Van Dam, N., The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism,
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* Watt, W.M., "Islamic Conceptions of the Holy War", in:
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                  St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 (December 2005)

* Yapp, M.E., The Making of the Modern Near East: 1792-1923,
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     letter from four Sudanese Catholic bishops)




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