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Sudan says Woman Sentenced to Death for Apostasy Can Appeal

Christian worshipers pray during Christmas mass at a Church in Khartoum, Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
Christian worshipers pray during Christmas mass at a Church in Khartoum, Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
Sudan’s Minister of Information said his government will not interfere in the case of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, the woman who was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.

Ahmed Bilal said Sudan has an independent judiciary which is dealing with the case. This follows media reports Ibrahim would be released within days.

Bilal said, although Sharia dictates that a Muslim cannot change his or her religion, there are several fatwas in Islam, one of which allows for an appeal.

“I want to tell you one thing about this lady. The government has nothing to do. This is only a judiciary problem. The family of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, they have come to justice complaining about their sister,” he said.

Bilal says Sudan has a free judicial system, and Ms. Ibrahim has the right to appeal her sentencing.

“We know that in Islam, you cannot sentence to death a pregnant lady. She has to give delivery to her baby and she has to complete at least two years with her baby, and after that is the sentencing. This is not final. She has all the rights to appeal. But, our government has nothing to do with the case,” Bilal said.

The United States and other countries have called on Sudan to free Ibrahim and respect the right to freedom of religion, including the right to change one’s faith or beliefs.

Bilal said it is all Sharia at work, and the government has no part to play.

“In Islam, if you are a Muslim, you are not allowed to change your religion. This is Sharia; this is not the government. But, in spite of that, I told you what Sharia said that no lady can be sentenced to death while she’s pregnant. And, after that, there is a lot of fatwas. She can appeal.”

He said Ibrahim is doing fine after giving birth in detention to a baby girl.

“She’s in a very good condition; she has all the care. She delivered a healthy girl, and she’s in a good health condition; her husband, mother and everybody came to visit her. Secondly, she has all the rights to appeal to another court,” Bilal said.

Last month, Khartoum ordered the arrest and imprisonment of former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. The prosecutor has prevented media from reporting news of the arrest.

Bilal denied the arrest is a setback to the government’s self-proclaimed promotion of political dialogue. He said al-Mahdi was arrested because he broke the law.

“The dialogue doesn’t mean that we have suspended the law. Sadiq al-Mahdi is arrested because he broke the law,” Bilal said.
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