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.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Freddie H from: Amsterdam, Netherlands
May 15, 2014 6:32 PM
Reports like this one just fuel my feelings of hopelessness concerning the fate of Africa. I also think of the harassment and persecution of gays in many African countries, the unimaginable poverty, the extremely bad health care situation, lack of proper educational facilities and the religious fanaticism and you can only cry your eyes out. What a totally doomed and damned continent, the most wretched part of our planet, the playground of the most horrifying dictators on earth as well. I keep asking myself, why this should be the case. Who's going to answer???

by: joshua from: falls church,virginia
May 15, 2014 4:43 PM
Its time for US to take stand on Sudan who runs this kind of mullah court which is supported by Saudi Arabia who does not have tolerance on other religion

by: Sunday Ogunmadewa from: Lagos, Nigeria
May 15, 2014 4:41 PM
As long as Africans and their leaders continue to use religion as a political weapon to victimise the masses , the continent cannot know peace.

by: Sunday Ogunmadewa from: Lagos, Nigeria
May 15, 2014 4:29 PM
For how long will African leaders use religion
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs