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Sudan Denies Immediate Release of Christian Woman Condemned to Death

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.
Sudan's Foreign Ministry is denying media reports that a woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith will be released within days, following an international outcry.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abubakar Al-Sidiq says Mariam Yahya Ibrahim cannot be released without a ruling from an appeals court.

Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging last month after she declined to declare herself a Muslim. Ibrahim says she was raised as a Christian by her mother, but because her father was Muslim, Islamic law considers her Muslim. Under that law, religious conversion is a crime.

The death sentence has sparked international condemnation. Governments and rights groups are urging the Sudanese government to annul the sentence.

The United States has called on the government of Sudan to respect its citizens' right to freedom of religion.

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

Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, also a Christian, says the 27-year-old mother of his two children will not renounce her faith, even though she is languishing with both children in prison.