News / Africa

Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Hang for Refusing to Renounce Christianity

Christian worshippers pray during Christmas mass at a Church in Khartoum, Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
Christian worshippers pray during Christmas mass at a Church in Khartoum, Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
A court in Sudan has sentenced a pregnant woman to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, who is already the mother to a 20-month-old son, was convicted of apostasy on Monday and given three days to abandon her faith.

Her lawyer, Mohamed Abdel Nabi, said the judge hearing the case asked her, "Where do you stand on being an apostate?"

"She answered, 'I’m not an apostate, your honor; because I was never a Muslim. I grew up a Christian.’ Then the judge announced, ‘you are sentenced to death by hanging,'" Nabi told South Sudan in Focus.

Mariam's husband, who is from South Sudan and holds a U.S. passport, confirmed that his wife was raised a Christian.

"She is from Darfur in western Sudan," Daniel Wani said.

"Her mother is from Ethiopia and she grew up with her mother. That's why she is a Christian, since she was young, you know,” he said.

Wani said he was prevented by the authorities from attending his wife’s appeal hearing but said he will continue to fight to save her life.

Death sentence not final

Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal, said that the the death sentence against Mariam was not final. 

Even Sudan's Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the country, was opposed to the harsh sentence against the young woman, Bilal said.

According to Bilal, Grand Mufti Isam Ahmed Elbashir said Mariam should have been given more time to decide whether or not she wanted to convert to Islam.

The U.S. State Department said it was  "deeply disturbed" by the sentence of death by hanging imposed on Mariam but understood that the sentence was open to appeal.

"We continue to call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, a right which is enshrined in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution as well as international human rights law," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statment.

Several embassies in Khartoum have also voiced concern over the harsh sentence against the young woman, who has also been sentenced to be flogged for adultery.

The Sudanese authorities insist that Mariam is Muslim, because her father is Muslim. Sudanese law prohibits marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, and Mariam's husband is Christian.

Amnesty International called the ruling "abhorrent" and a flagrant breach of international human rights law.  The rights group called for Mariam's immediate and unconditional release.

Nabeel Biajo contributed to this report.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Ron from: florida usa
May 30, 2014 12:02 PM
God in his 10 commandments mandated that "Thou shalt not kill".
As a Christian should I support killing Muslims if they refuse to convert to Christianity? Not at all, no way!! God may very well not forgive anyone that kills in his name.

by: What about Gods Love
May 20, 2014 10:51 AM
what kind of God would want someone especially a woman with child beaten for their faith, they are sadly deceived, and will face God's judgment themselves he is a loving God we all have a right to choose.

by: Mercy from: U.S.
May 17, 2014 11:06 AM
Please respect human life more than your religion. If you are a father, and a husband you love to be with your family. Please let the father be with his son.
My prayers to the family at difficult time.

by: lorraine
May 16, 2014 6:14 AM
who do these stupid little ignorant men in court in this god forsaken country ( you don't see any women in picture here allowed to contribute to decisions) think they are. what gives them the right to such decisions to condemn women like they do. Thank God we are who we are by the nature of birth and we weren't born under the rule of ignorant authorities in Sudan.

What makes these people who they are - is there anything more cruel than the words of an indistinct little man lacking worldly knowledge sentencing a woman to death. Is this little man married with children. How does he treat his wife and disturbingly if there are (and god forbid if there are) offspring of the condemned gender. From Adam and Eve - how did human beings like this little judge get a place on this planet

by: Dwelling Glory from: London
May 16, 2014 2:41 AM
I mean this total delusion! This is pure evil and really pure Evil! And the funny thing these Muslim ppl want to force us to accept their in our countries but yet they persecute and kill Christians in their countries. I mean I really do not understand this religion.

by: Roy Riddle from: Topeka KS
May 15, 2014 10:18 PM
This is not the face of the Muslim faith. This is not a religious issue. This is a human issue. Every man, woman and child has the capacity to exude love, compassion and mercy. Every man, woman and child has the capacity for selfishness, bitterness and hatred. Choosing either set of values can be culturally defined. But, not always. Cultures are dynamic. Values are dynamic. The struggles the world faces today are the same struggles that have played out since the history of man. Until the world of men changes to allow a universal brotherhood which values selflisness, compassion and love, nation will rise against nation. Until the heart of man is no longer conflicted, there will be human atrocity. When you and I come to a place where we recognize a self evident truth, that all men are created equal, we change the culture. We change the world regardless of religious or national faith.
In Response

by: craig
May 16, 2014 2:30 PM
"This is not the face of the Muslim faith. This is not a religious issue."

Assertion does not make it so. The judges openly state that this is a religious issue, and their knowledge of the Muslim faith, the societal context, and this case are all greater than yours. I am tired of decadent utopian Westerners repeatedly trying to lull us with 'oh no, the Islamists don't really mean all that'.

"When you and I come to a place where we recognize a self evident truth, that all men are created equal, we change the culture.

But it's *not* a self-evident truth that all men are created equal. Jefferson took liberties in writing that in the Declaration, because empirical observation will tell you that men are unequal in all sorts of ways. Most of us are not Einstein, Usain Bolt, Yo-Yo Ma, or Mother Teresa. The claim that men are created equal only makes sense as a relative claim, that we all possess the same standing relative to a creator that has revealed this equality. In other words, it is a specifically Christian doctrine, given by revelation and not attainable through reason.

We don't see that because we live off the residue of Christian civilization and don't know it any more than fish know they're in water. Without a belief in God, the claim that all men are created equal is not an 'is' but an 'ought' -- not a statement of fact, but a moral sentiment with nothing solid shoring it up.

by: Apophis from: Indiana
May 15, 2014 9:02 PM
Just one more reason why all religion needs to be banned. Keep your spirituality...lose religion. Religion is evil.

by: Rod Cullins
May 15, 2014 8:44 PM
I don't care what anyone says: THIS is the face of Islam. Fact.

by: robotgiskard from: San Francisco
May 15, 2014 8:41 PM
There is a huge difference between Islam and Christianity: one demands obedience and the other allows choice.

by: Unlicensed Dremel from: USA
May 15, 2014 8:36 PM
Religion of peace strikes again!
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