'Abhorrent' decision condemned by religious freedom activists
A heavily pregnant Sudanese woman faces the death penalty for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity.
In a case widely condemned around the world and described as “abhorrent” by Amnesty International, a court in El Haj Yousif Khartoum, confirmed the death sentence on Dr Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag after she refused to abandon her faith.
Mrs Ibrahim was arrested on February 17, and subsequently charged and sentenced to 100 lashes for death for apostasy under Sudan’s Islamic-inspired penal code. She is currently detained in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with her 20-month-old son, Daniel Wani.
Mrs Ibrahim told the court in March that she is a life-long Christian, showing her marriage certificate as proof, and stating that she was born in western Sudan to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left the family when Mrs Ibrahim was six years old and she was raised a Christian. Three potential witnesses who came to testify to this effect were prevented from giving evidence.
Her husband has said that his wife, who is eight months pregnant, has been prevented from receiving visitors and accessing vital medical treatment. A family member said: “we are concerned for her wellbeing; it is not very safe for her to be in the prison with dangerous criminals”.
If the sentence is carried out she will be the first person to be executed under the country’s apostasy code since it was introduced in 1991.
Andy Dipper of Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called for the “annulment [of] the inhumane and unwarranted sentence and for the immediate of Mrs Ibrahim and her son, who is being held in violation of article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a Sudanese citizen Mrs Ibrahim is entitled to freedom of religion of belief, constitution; consequently, this sentence amounts to a violation of the Sudanese Constitution and of international conventions to which Sudan is party, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.”