News / Africa

Sudan Urged Not to Execute Christian Woman

A Sudanese judge sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for respect for religious freedom. A view of St. Matthew's Catholic Cathedral near Khartoum, May 15, 2014.
A Sudanese judge sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for respect for religious freedom. A view of St. Matthew's Catholic Cathedral near Khartoum, May 15, 2014.
VOA News
U.N. rights experts and Britain on Monday spoke out against a Sudanese court order to hang a pregnant Christian woman for marrying a Christian man and refusing to renounce her faith.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old who is eight months pregnant with her second child, was convicted last week under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and makes conversions of faith punishable by death.

"This outrageous conviction must be overturned and Ms. Ibrahim must be immediately released," insisted the U.N. experts on a range of issues, including the human rights situation in Sudan, violence against women, minorities and the freedom of religion or belief.

They stressed in a statement that under international law, "the death penalty may only be imposed for the most serious crimes, if at all," AFP reported.

"Choosing and/or changing one's religion is not a crime at all. On the contrary, it is a basic human right," the experts said.

Sudanese diplomat summoned

Britain summoned the Sudanese charge d'affaires on Monday to protest the death sentence.

Britain's foreign office said the sentence was barbaric and asked Sudanese Charge d'Affaires Bukhari Afandi to urge his government to uphold its international obligations on freedom of religion or belief and do all it can to overturn this decision.

The young mother was found guilty of apostasy, or publicly renouncing Islam -- a faith she never professed -- and sentenced to hang after she refused to "return" to the Muslim religion.

Ishag, who was born to a Christian mother and Muslim father, was also sentenced to 100 lashes for "adultery," for living with the Christian man she has been married to since 2012.

Under Sudan's interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.

The U.N. experts said that the right to marry and found a family was a fundamental human right, and voiced particular concern that Ishag was being held with her 20-month-old son in "harsh conditions" at the Omdurman's Women Prison near Khartoum.

"The imposition and enforcement of the death penalty on pregnant women or recent mothers is inherently cruel and leads to a violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," they warned.

The U.N. experts called on Sudan to repeal all discriminatory laws, adding there was a "pressing need to address the pattern of discrimination, abuse and torture as well as the subjugation and denigration of women in the country."

Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a Christian. He said in an interview with VOA last week that police prevented him from attending his wife's final appeal but that he will continue to fight for her life.

Death sentence may not be final

Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal, said last week 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.

Sudan has an Islamist government but, other than floggings, extreme sharia law punishments have been rare.

If the death sentence is carried out, Ishag will be the first person executed for apostasy under the 1991 penal code, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a British-based campaign group, said last week.

VOA's May Abdelnasir contributed to this report. Some information provided by AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: John Love from: Virginia
June 06, 2014 8:52 PM
I know that this request will seem outrageous to many; nevertheless, I assure you
that it is real and that I am serious.

My name is John Love. I am a retired USAF Major, including service in Vietnam.

My birth date is 8/24/1940.

I am single since my bride of 52 years passed away on 12/27/2012. No one is
physically dependent on me.

Therefore, I am VERY WILLING to substitute for Meriam Ibrahim. Mrs. Ibrahim will not renounce her Christian Faith and neither will I. She would be returned intact to her family who could flee Africa and be granted permanent asylum in another country. I would then stand in Sudan in her place.

I have been in contact with the State Department, in particular with the African
Desk and the Sudanese Ambassador.

I have many failings; however, lying is NOT one of them.

John Love

Arlington, VA

by: catherine mclean from: scotland
May 27, 2014 3:00 PM
right not might is what is important here. Women throughout the world should rally behind this innocent woman and offer her every support possible. The government of this country should examine its own morals before trying to condemn Miriam for what is not a crime. Women of the world defend her and may Mary save her.

by: Roxanne from: Maryland
May 26, 2014 2:18 PM
My thoughts and prayers are continually about this beautiful lady and her 20 month old baby and the one she is carrying !

by: CASSANDRA from: anguilla
May 22, 2014 7:54 AM
Please do not hang this young lady over her own rights

by: sandra browne from: jamaica
May 22, 2014 7:51 AM
O my GOD, where are u GOD. I'm really really heart broken over this pregnant woman sentence to be hang over her own rights. Are we not obligated to choose our own religion. I dont believe that she is to be hang because she is a christian religion. I cry so much over this situation & i not even know the woman
Help her heavenly father

by: Stefan Jordan from: Eureka, Ca
May 22, 2014 1:55 AM
Miriam, you are in our prayers. My wife is also 8 mo pregnant, and what is happening to you wrenches on my heart. I pray also for wise and godly world leaders to voice their beliefs and oppose ungodly, oppressive rulers who allow such things as this to happen.

by: Sebastian from: Ontario
May 21, 2014 3:26 PM
It's about time we open our eyes and realize that Muslims not only do not tolerate Christians but they persecute us in the most barbaric ways possible. Why are we so tolerant to them in North America? And why, are Muslim leaders around the world doing squat to prevent these atrocities ???

by: Emily from: South Africa
May 21, 2014 3:07 AM
The Lord said " I will never leave you , nor will I forsake you." Amen, indeed JESUS will not leave his daughter, I pray that my Lord will have mercy on all those that persecute his daughter.

by: Darko from: California
May 21, 2014 1:13 AM
There is a document signed by prophet Muhammad that proves that this women is Innocent.

No Islamic court can overrule this document and it should be sufficient to protect this women and her right and freedom of faith

Here is translation

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.
The Muslims are to fight for them.
If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).

This document is sufficient protection for her.

Here is more details:

by: cecili from: california
May 19, 2014 5:00 PM
Hopefully she gets rescued enough with theviolence of women
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