Christian In Sudan Sentenced To Death For Faith

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CNN – Hours after a Sudanese court sentenced his pregnant wife to death when she refused to recant her Christian faith, her husband told CNN he feels helpless.

“I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do,” Daniel Wani told CNN on Thursday. “I’m just praying.”

His wife, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was convicted by a Khartoum court this week of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith.

Ibrahim is Christian, her husband said. But the court considers her to be Muslim.

Her legal team can appeal the verdict.

According to the rights group Amnesty International, she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes because her marriage to a Christian man is considered void under Sharia law.

“The verdict is contrary to commitments Sudan has made in its own Constitution and commitments made under regional and international law; Meriam has been convicted solely on account of her religious convictions and personal status,” said Katherine Perks with the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.

“The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered,” Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher, said in a statement.

“‘Adultery’ and ‘apostasy’ are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of ‘most serious crimes’ in relation to the death penalty. It is a flagrant breach of international human rights law,” the researcher said.

Ibrahim is eight months’ pregnant and is in custody with her 20-month-old son, according to Amnesty International, which considers her a prisoner of conscience.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, another rights group, described Ibrahim’s case as follows:

She was born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left when she was 6 years old, and Ibrahim was raised by her mother as a Christian.

However, because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her to be the same, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

In past cases involving pregnant or nursing women, the Sudanese government waited until the mother weaned her child before executing any sentence, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide spokeswoman Kiri Kankhwende.

‘Egregious violations of freedom of religion’

Sudan is one of the most difficult countries in the world to be a Christian, according to international religious freedom monitors.

Under President Omar al-Bashir, the African nation “continues to engage in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its 2014 report.

The country imposes Sharia law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike and punishes acts of “indecency” and “immorality” by floggings and amputations, the commission said.

“Conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death, suspected converts to Christianity face societal pressures, and government security personnel intimidate and sometimes torture those suspected of conversion,” said the commission, whose members are appointed by Congress and the president.

The Sudanese government has arrested Christians for spreading their faith, razed Christian churches and confiscated Christians’ property, the commission said.

Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has called Sudan one of the worst offenders of religious rights, counting it among eight “countries of particular concern.”

“The government at times enforced laws against blasphemy and defaming Islam,” the State Department said in its most recent report on religious freedom, from 2012.

The State Department’s other countries of concern, all of which impose strict penalties on Christians or other faiths, are: Myanmar (also known as Burma), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Among all religious groups, Christians are the most likely to be persecuted worldwide, according to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center.

Between June 2006 and December 2012, Christians were harassed by governments in 151 countries, Pew reported. Islam was second, with 135 countries. Together, Christians and Muslims make up half of the world’s population, Pew noted.

A united call for religious rights

Attempts to contact Sudan’s justice minister and foreign affairs minister about the Ibrahim case were unsuccessful.

Foreign embassies in Khartoum are urging the government there to reverse course.

“We call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution,” the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Netherlands said in a statement.

“We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms. Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” it read.


  • Jimmy Bob

    This is what happens when you allow religion to rule your government and you don’t have a separation of church and state.

  • rlwieneke

    No “Jimmy Bob” this is what happens when you allow Muslims to exist. Do you know where that term came from? Thomas Jefferson was President. The Danberry Baptists lived in a state that just established a State Endorsed Religion. The Baptists concerned they would be discriminated against because the state endorsed religion was a different denomination other than their own wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson asking for Federal Government intervention. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter back to the Danberry Baptists stating that because of the High Wall of Separation of Church and State the Federal Government could NOT intervene in a State level religious matter.

  • ...

    This happens because Muslims exist? Wrong. You’re forgetting that every religion has extremists, and with many nations of Islamic majority, the extremists have gotten in a position of power. Many people in these countries don’t agree with the total religious law. Just as with any religion, various tenants are outdated and irrelevant in this day and age. It’s the extremists who take every word written to be ultimate truth and divine law. It’s not all Muslims, just as all Christians don’t fit all of the stereotypes they’ve gained over the years. You can’t lump a whole group of people into one description. It’s ignorance.

  • Sam

    When I hear the so called good muslims stand up and condemn such barbaric treatment of women, oops that won’t ever happen will it so never mind.

  • Nicole

    Sam, you must not know any Muslims, i know quite a few wonderful, peace-loving Muslims who would stand up and condemn this, i know some of them personally, some otherwise, who are famous. And yes, they DO speak out against this. I encourage you to reach out of your worldview and take time to get to know others of other religions, including Muslims, and see that they too are good loving humans. I may not agree with their woman being expected to be covered/wear a hijab, in fact i’ve been pretty angered by watching a young Muslim girl cry because she wasn’t allowed to go swimming with other kids, because she had to stay covered, but it’s not my place to tell them they can or can’t. It’s their personal faith within their family. If i saw them being abused, it would be another story. I also didn’t tell other little muslim girls they had to cover up their heads when they got overheated and removed their hijabs while on a field trip, I enjoyed seeing them free from that. But, many grown Muslim women choose to wear it, even when they do feel they have a choice. I do not believe in Sharia law, nor do I believe that any religious law has any place in courts in this country.

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