Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sudanese pregnant mother sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’

Western Embassies have expressed deep concern for a Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to death in Khartoum for ‘apostasy’ [converting to Christianity] as well as to 100 lashes for committing adultery.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, who is 27-years-old  and 8-months pregnant with her second child, received her death sentence on May 11. Despite her claimed faith in Jesus Christ,  Sudanese authorities are claiming that she is a Muslim by virtue of the fact that she was born in Sudan.
Amnesty International reports that she has been given until her next hearing on Thursday May 15 to renounce her Christian faith, otherwise she is likely to be sentenced to flogging and death.

 According to Justice Center Sudan, she was initially arrested and released on bail under suspicion of committing adultery in September 2013. Her  brother lodged the criminal complaint against her, claiming that she was Muslim and therefore illegally cohabiting with a Christian man. It was later established that Ibrahim and her partner were married, in a church in 2012, and that they even had a 20-month-old son together.
On May 11 the Criminal Court in Al-Haj Yousef (an area where many Christians live in Khartoum) convicted Ibrahim of adultery, after declaring her church marriage invalid on account of her Muslim faith and upbringing. The evidence used in court was based on a number of her family members’ accounts. The penalty for adultery under Article 146 of the Sudanese Penal Code is 100 lashes for offenders who are not married. 

Ibrahim was raised as an Orthodox Christian in a small town located in Western Sudan. A graduate of Khartoum University, she was a practising medical doctor when she married her husband, a South Sudanese Christian with US citizenship, Daniel Wani. Despite the Sudanese government’s refusal to recognise the couple’s marriage for Ibrahim; the adultery case which was opened against her husband was dropped on account of his undisputed Christian faith. The court also confirmed that he had married Ibrahim in a church.

Their first born child has been in prison with his mother since her arrest because the authorities regard him as a Muslim and will not allow him to be raised by his father who is a Christian. Ibrahim’s unborn child is expected next month. If her death sentence is upheld her children’s custody would be granted to the government, as the husband is not granted any rights over his children due to being a Christian. 

Justice Center Sudan, a local human rights organization that is appealing Ibrahim’s case on her behalf,   said Ibrahim has been under pressure to convert from Christianity to Islam with the promise to reduce or eliminate the charges, but there are no confirmed reports regarding her  response.
This case is unique to Sudan, as there are no other documented sentences from Sudanese courts that  are based on people of different faiths coming together in marriage.
The African Centre for Justice and Peace  Studies says this case demonstrates “the internal contractions of Sudanese law and its incompatibility with Sudan’s diverse population and international commitments”.

Sudan is ranked as the 11th most difficult country to be Christian of 50 countries to be ranked on the 2014 World Watch List.

The World Watch List is published annually by Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians who live under pressure because of their faith.
  Courtesy:World Watch Monitor

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