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Global outcry as Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy
A heavily pregnant young woman has been sentenced to death in Sudan for "apostasy" renouncing Islam and marrying a Christian man, in a case which has attracted global condemnation.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was told by a court in Khartoum she would be hanged for committing apostasy by leaving Islam and becoming a Christian. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for marrying a non-Muslim, which constitutes adultery under Sudanese law.
According to human rights organisations Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mrs Ibrahim was born in western Sudan to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. Her father left when she was six, so her mother raised her as a Christian. She married Daniel Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan who has US citizenship, in 2011.
The charity added that three witnesses from western Sudan had travelled to the hearing to testify that Mrs Ibrahim had always been a Christian, but were prevented from giving evidence.
Mrs Ibrahim is eight months pregnant and has been held since February in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison, north of Khartoum, with her 18-month-old son Martin. On Sunday she was told that she had three days to recant her faith or face death, but appearing in court yesterday she refused, saying she had always been a Christian.
An Islamic cleric spoke to Mrs Ibrahim in the dock for half an hour, but afterwards she told judge Abbas al Khalifa: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
The judge, who addressed Mrs Ibrahim by her Muslim name Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah throughout, reportedly replied: “We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.”
Her family are extremely worried about her welfare, saying she is not being given access to medical treatment in jail. One relative said: “We are concerned for her wellbeing. It is not very safe for her to be in the prison with dangerous criminals.”
Under Sharia Law the death sentence will not be enacted for two years after she has given birth to allow the mother to breast feed, but the punishment of 100 lashes could be carried out as soon as her baby is born. Mrs Ibrahim’s lawyers are intending to launch an appeal, which could take several months.
Amnesty International condemned the sentence, and Sudan researcher Manar Idriss condemned the punishments, saying apostasy and adultery should not be considered crimes. "The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent," he said.
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