Meriam Ibrahim

Meriam Ibrahim, Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for her beliefs may be released pending court appeal.

There may be some good news in the story of the Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for apostasy.  Meriam Yehya Ibrahim may be released pending a court appeal according to a Sudanese official. Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdelah Al-Azrak told Reuters, “The related authorities in the country are working to release Mariam (Yahya Ibrahim), who was sentenced to death for apostasy, through legal measures.”

However, there are some doubts as to the certainty of these statements. Ibrahim’s lawyers claim that Al-Azrak’s statement was simply “a political statement made under pressure from an international campaign,” said her lawyer Elshareef Ali Mohammed. He warned, “Nothing has changed.” Now, Al-Azrak’s statements are being considered taken out of context by the media as he only meant that her decision was still reliant on a successful court appeal.

Since Ibrahim was sentenced, there has been an international outcry over her case. Religious freedom advocates from around the world have rallied global help.

Advocates for the young mother have been increasingly supportive with more than 620,000 actions taken through Amnesty International to appeal Ibrahim’s death sentence. A Change.org petition has gathered more than 750,000 signatures, while the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has obtained over 325,000 signatures.

Meriam Ibrahim is a 27-year-old Sudanese woman who is currently imprisoned and has been sentenced to death by hanging for her refusal to renounce her faith in Christianity. She is being detained in Omdurman Women’s Prison where she is not permitted any visitors. To worsen the situation, she cares for her 20 month old son and recently birthed daughter – all while shackled in prison.

Ibrahim was originally arrested in August of 2013 when her brother reported her to the authorities. At the time, she was heavily pregnant with her unborn daughter. According to her lawyer, her brother informed the authorities that his sister had been missing for numerous years and her family was shocked to discover that she had married a Christian. Daniel Wani, her husband, is a United States citizen that is wheelchair-bound and is dependent on her for all aspects of his life.

Ibrahim continues to state that although her father was Muslim, he left when she was 6 and she was brought up as a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother. However, because her father was a Muslim, the courts consider her one too, and they refuse to recognize her claims.

In addition to the apostasy charge, marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is illegal and consequently not recognized in Sudan. Therefore, her marriage to her husband is considered unlawful, and her relations to Daniel can be labeled as adultery. As a result, in addition to her death sentence, she was also sentenced to 100 whippings.

Ishmael Semenya, an executive member of the General Council of the Bar in South Africa, has urged diplomacy by asking the Sudanese government to overturn the death penalty. Semenya states that Sudan is bound by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which guarantee the right of freedom of religion and free practice of religion.

“It is unwise and dangerous to politicize the issue at hand to spur religious tension between the two peaceful faiths with similar foundations,” Sudan officials state, yet there is nothing peaceful about hanging a woman because of what she chooses to believe in.”

Hopefully, Sudan has heard the protests of the world and will release Ibrahim and her young children.

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