Sudan mother facing apostasy death sentence to be freed soon: official
Publish Date: Jun 01, 2014
A handout picture taken on May 28, 2014, and released by the family on May 30, shows Daniel Wani, a US citizen originally from South Sudan, carrying his newborn daughter Maya at the womens prison in Khartoums twin city of Omdurman. There was an international outcry after Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was condemned to hang for apostasy on May 15 under Islamic sharia law, which has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death. AFP PHOTO
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was condemned to death on May 15 under the Islamic sharia law that has been in place since 1983 and outlaws conversions under pain of death.
"The lady will be freed within days in line with legal procedure that will be taken by the judiciary and the ministry of justice," said Abdullah al-Azraq, a foreign ministry undersecretary.
Azraq, who spoke via telephone from London, did not elaborate.
The 27-year-old gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday in a women's prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman.
Her husband, US citizen Daniel Wani, visited Ishag and the baby on Thursday, after being denied access earlier in the week, and told AFP both were in "good health".
Ishag was born to a Muslim father but told the court during her trial that she had never been a Muslim herself.
The court gave her three days to "recant" her faith and when she refused, Ishag was handed the death penalty and sentenced to 100 lashes for "adultery".
Under Sudan's interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man, so any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.
Her case sparked international condemnation.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday he was "appalled" by the "barbaric" sentence given to Ishag.
Britain and Canada had summoned the Sudanese envoys to their countries last week and told them the sentence violated Sudan's international human rights obligations.
United Nations experts have called the conviction "outrageous" and said it must be overturned.
An appeal was filed against the verdict but defence attorney Mohannad Mustapha said a hearing that was to have been held on Wednesday was postponed because the case file was incomplete.
Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Hang for Refusing to Convert to Islam to be Freed
KHARTOUM, Sudan – A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death by hanging for refusing to convert to Islam will soon be freed, reports state.
As previously reported, Meriam Ibrahim, 27, was officially sentenced on May 15th after she was convicted of apostasy against Islam for professing to be an Orthodox Christian. Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father, but was raised by an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother as the father left the home when Ibrahim was a child. In Sudan, children are expected to follow the religion of their fathers, and her father’s family had reportedly turned her into authorities for rejecting Islam.
Ibrahim was also sentenced to 100 lashes for allegedly committing “zena”—that is, having illegitimate sex by marrying a non-Muslim. The expectant mother married a professing Christian man, Daniel Wani, in 2011, and the two have an 18-month old son together, along with the child in Ibrahim’s womb. Sudanese law prohibits women from marrying non-Muslims, although men can marry whomever they wish without penalty.
Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy on May 11th for rejecting Islam and was given four days to recant, which would have saved her life. Unlike others who have faced similar sentences in Sudan, she refused to convert.
“I am a Christian,” she declared before the court, “and I will remain a Christian.”
“We gave you three days to recant, but you insist on not returning to Islam,” Judge Abbas Khalifa told Ibrahim, as reported by the AFP. “I sentence you to be hanged to death.”
The court had also ruled that after Ibrahim gives birth, she was to receive the 100 lashes, and would be permitted to nurse the child for two years before the execution would be carried out. On Tuesday, Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl in the hospital wing of the prison, who she named Maya.
But amid international outcry, reports state that Ibrahim will be freed by the Sudanese government and will not face death.
“The related authorities in the country are working to release Meriam through legal measures,” Abdullahi Alazreg, under-secretary at Sudan’s ministry of foreign affairs, told reporters on Saturday. “I expect her to be released soon.”
But some are skeptical of the announcement, including her attorney Elshareef Ali Mohammed.
“It’s a statement to silence the international media,” he said. “This is what the government does. We will not believe that she is being freed until she walks out of the prison.”
“They could just be saying this just to get everyone off their backs. We have seen them do that before,” Tina Ramierez of the religious freedom organization Hardwired told MailOnline. “Its essential that we keep the pressure up until Meriam is actually freed.”
In the meantime, petitions continue to be underway worldwide calling for Ibrahim’s release. Amnesty International has reportedly gathered over 200,000 signatures in its petition drive, and the BeHeard project has over 305,000 signatures.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Gives Birth in Sudan Prison as 1 Million Protest Christian Mother's Death Penalty
(UPDATED) Government of Sudan: 'This case remains a legal issue and not a religious or a political one.'
[ posted 5/27/2014 10:02AM ]
Facebook screenshot - Gabriel Wani
Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani.
Update (May 29): A second Sudanese Christian woman has been arrested for apostasy, reports Morning Star News (MSN), which first broke the story of Ibrahim's plight. MSN explores the parallels between Ibrahim's case and that of 37-year-old Faiza Abdalla, who has yet to be convicted.
Sudan is one of the world's 1 in 10 countries that still outlaw apostasy, and one of the 1 in 5 countries that still outlaw blasphemy, according to new maps by the Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has photos of Ibrahim's new daughter, Maya.
As advocates for the Sudanese mother sentenced to death for not renouncing her Christian faith topped more than 1 million, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag gave birth early this morning to a baby girl in a Khartoum prison hospital wing.
So reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), as well as her lawyer Elshareef Ali to the BBC. The 27-year-old mother sentenced to death for apostasy named her little girl Maya, according to The Telegraph.
Sudanese authorities are allowing Ibrahim two years to nurse her daughter before they will carry out the death sentence. Ibrahim's lawyers lodged an appeal last week, according to CSW.
Meanwhile, advocates decry the actions of the Sudanese government in convicting Ibrahim of apostasy and adultery, punishable by hanging and 100 lashes. So far, more than 620,000 actions have been taken via Amnesty International to appeal Ibrahim's death sentence. A Change.org petition has gathered more than 414,000 signatures, while the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has gathered more than 236,000 signatures.
The Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. released a statement:
This case remains a legal issue and not a religious or a political one. It is unwise and dangerous to politicize the issue at hand to spur religious tension between the two peaceful faiths with similar foundations. Notably, It is important to emphasize that freedom of choice is the cornerstone of both Islam and Christianity.
Her husband, Daniel Wani, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from muscular dystrophy, immigrated to New Hampshire with his brother, Gabriel, in 1998. He became a U.S. citizen in 2005, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader. However, Daniel has been in Khartoum for the past year in support of his wife and son.
The U.S. embassy released its own statement May 15, the day Ibrahim appeared before the court and refused to recant:
We are deeply disturbed over the sentencing today of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag to death by hanging for apostasy. We are also deeply concerned by the flogging sentence for adultery. We understand that the court sentence can be appealed.We continue to call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, a right which is enshrined in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution as well as international human rights law.We call on the Sudanese legal authorities to approach this case with the compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people.
Additionally, four U.S. senators have officially condemned Sudan's charges against Ibrahim: Marco Rubio from Florida, Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma, Chris Coons from Delaware, and Bob Menendez from New Jersey. In a U.S. Senate resolution, they encouraged the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development "to continue their support for initiatives worldwide that support religious freedom." They call on the Sudanese government to include protection for religious freedom in a new constitution that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir pledged in January to write.
Other U.S. senators, including Roy Blunt of Missouri and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, penned an open letter asking John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, to offer political asylum to Ibrahim.
"We also urge you and President Obama to reappoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, whose primary purpose is to monitor, prevent, and respond to this exact type of incident," the letter stated.
U.N. human rights experts have condemned the death sentence and its rejection of international law.
"According to international law," they said, "The death penalty may only be imposed for 'the most serious crimes', if at all. Choosing and/or changing one's religion is not a crime at all; on the contrary, it is a basic human right."
Globally, the Netherlands, Canada, and England have also decried Sudan's treatment of Ibrahim, reports CNN.
Details surrounding why Ibrahim's half-brother and half-sister filed suit against her in the first place have emerged from the Daily Mail.
Here is the Government of Sudan's full statement:
The Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Washington DC has noticed with regret some of the official statements and media coverage on the case of the Sudanese citizen Mariam Ibrahim Yahia; as some of them have mistakenly accused the government of Sudan of violating human rights by depriving Mariam of her civil rights as a Sudanese citizen. In this regard, the Embassy would like to confirm the following:The official records of the Government of Sudan indicates that the real name of the lady mentioned in this case as Mariam Ibrahim is actually ' Abrar Elhadi Muhammad Abdallah Abugadeen' and there is no official record shows that her name was changed to Mariam Ibrahim Yahia. Abrar was born in um Shagrah in Algadarif state on Jan. Ist. 1986 to Muslim Sudanese parents and the claim that the mother is an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia is untrue.There was no Government agency behind the case; rather her immediate family had reported their daughter as missing, later and after she was found and claimed that she is Christian, the family filed a case of apostasy against her.The ruling of the judge was made at the primary court after hearing all parties involved since February 2014, and it is subject to be implemented in at least two years if confirmed by three levels of courts which are: Appeal Court, Supreme Court and finally the Constitutional Court. The Judiciary System in Sudan is independent, and the Sudanese Judges are qualified and dignified.This case remains a legal issue and not a religious or a political one. It is unwise and dangerous to politicize the issue at hand to spur religious tension between the two peaceful faiths with similar foundations. Notably, It is important to emphasize that freedom of choice is the cornerstone of both Islam and Christianity.While reaffirming the commitment of the Government of Sudan to all human rights and freedom of beliefs, the Embassy of Sudan in Washington DC would like to thank all those who have raised their concern and sympathy on this issue.
Sudanese woman to be killed for marrying a Christian man
Publish Date: May 15, 2014
A file picture taken on October 6, 2013 shows people walking past the courthouse in the Haj Yousef district in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. A Sudanese judge on May 15, 2014 sentenced a Christian woman to hang.AFP/PHOTOA Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom.
Born to a Muslim father, the woman was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is eight months pregnant and married to a Christian national of South Sudan which broke away in 2011, human rights activists say.
"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged," Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father's Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
Khalifa also sentenced Ishaq to 100 lashes for "adultery". Under Sudan's interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.
Ishag reacted without emotion when Abbas delivered the verdict at a court in the Khartoum district of Haj Yousef.
Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic religious leader spoke with her in the caged dock for about 30 minutes.
Then she calmly told the judge: "I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy."
Sudan has a strongly Islamist government but, other than floggings, extreme sharia law punishments have been rare.
After the hearing about 50 people demonstrated against the verdict.
"No to executing Meriam," said one of their signs while another proclaimed: "Religious rights are a constitutional right."
In a speech, one demonstrator said they would continue their protests until she is freed.
A smaller group supporting the verdict also arrived but there was no violence.
"This is a decision of the law. Why are you gathered here?" one supporter asked, prompting an activist to retort: "Why do you want to execute Meriam? Why don't you bring corruptors to the court?"
Sudan is widely perceived as one of the most graft-ridden countries in the world, ranked 174th for its performance by campaign group Transparency International. AFP