A court in Sudan has sentenced a pregnant woman to death by hanging for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
Twenty-seven-year-old Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, who is already the mother of a 20-month-old son, was convicted of apostasy on Sunday and given four days to abandon her faith.
On Thursday, Judge Abbas al-Khalifa handed down the death sentence in Khartoum after Ibrahim told the court, "I am a Christian."
Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father. She was brought up as Christian after the father left the family. Under Sudanese law, children of Muslim fathers are considered Muslim.
The judge also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes on charges of adultery. Under Sudanese law, marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims is not permitted, and any such union is considered adultery.
Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a Christian. He said in an interview with VOA that police prevented him from attending his wife's final appeal but that he will continue to fight for her life.
"My wife, actually, she is from Darfur in western Sudan, her mother from Ethiopia. She grew up with her mother and that's why she is a Christian since she was young, you know," said Wani.
The U.S. State Department said the United States is deeply disturbed by the court ruling and called on the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion.
Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal told VOA ((South Sudan in Focus)) that Ibrahim's sentence is not final. He also says she should have been given more time to decide whether she wanted to convert to Islam.
Amnesty International has condemned the court ruling, calling it "abhorrent" and a flagrant breach of international human rights law. The rights group called for Ibrahim's immediate and unconditional release.
Sudan's 2005 constitution guarantees the right to freedom of worship. In practice, the government enforces a form of Islamic law.