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Sudan: Woman on Death Row to be Freed

  • Fern Robinson

Sudan - South Sudan map

Sudan - South Sudan map

Sudan's foreign ministry says a Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for identifying herself as a Christian will be freed "within days," following an international uproar over her conviction for apostasy.

Ministry spokesman Abdullah al-Azraq announced the development late Saturday in Khartoum, just days after the woman — 27-year-old Mariam Yahya Ibrahim — gave birth in prison while awaiting her execution.

Ibrahim is also the mother of a 20-month-old son. Both children are incarcerated with their mother.

Born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father and raised Christian after the father left the family, Ibrahim said she had never herself been a Muslim, despite Sudanese law defining children of Muslim fathers as Muslims by definition.

A court in early May gave her four days to recant her Christian faith, and imposed the death penalty when she refused to do so.

Christian-Muslim unions such as Ibrahim's marriage to U.S. citizen Daniel Wani are defined under Sudanese law as adultery, prompting the judge to impose an additional sentence of 100 lashes on the young mother.

Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a Christian. He was not allowed to visit his wife and children on the day of the daughter's birth, but did see his family a few days afterwards. He says they are all doing well.

The death sentence sparked widespread criticism from Western governments and human rights organizations. The U.S. State Department protested the ruling and called on the Khartoum government to respect the right to freedom of religion. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the ruling has "no place in today's world."

Amnesty International also condemned the death sentence, calling it "abhorrent" and a flagrant breach of international human rights law.

Sudan's 2005 constitution guarantees the right to freedom of worship. But in practice, the government enforces a form of Islamic law.

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