OXFORD, England – Christians in Chad are being intimidated and forced from public life, under new rules prioritizing Islam in violation of the North African country’s secular foundations, according to the Catholic Church.
A senior church source, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, called the situation “critical, as the great powers show complicity by turning a blind eye to violations of basic human rights under cover of resisting radical Islam.”
The source also said Catholic leaders fear for their lives after criticizing constitutional changes.
The comments were sent Aug. 27 to Catholic News Service, as the government of President Idriss Deby enforced a revised constitution, extending presidential powers in the predominantly Muslim state and requiring office-holders to take a religious oath.
“The new religious oath is exclusive and reductive in its vision of the state and appears to be another way of excluding Christians from public responsibilities,” the church source said. “What will now become of the many Chadians who are neither Muslims nor Christians, and what will be the purpose of our institutions of justice and regulation?”
The revised constitution, in force since May 4, abolishes the office of prime minister and extends the powers of Deby, in office since 1990, allowing him to seek a sixth and seventh term, running till 2033.
In April, the Catholic bishops’ conference criticized the religious oath and use of Diya – blood money or ransom. The bishops urged a referendum on the revised constitution and warned its adoption otherwise risked igniting “inter-communal bitterness” and “gravely perverting democratic rules.”
Read more at Crux.