27-year-old Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, who is a doctor by profession and eight months pregnant with her second child, had been charged with adultery for marrying a Christian man and been ordered by the court to abandon her newly adopted Christian faith to revert to Islam.
During a hearing on May 14, Ibrahim was asked by Judge Abbas al Khalifa if she would revert to Islam but she refused, identifying herself as a Christian. That is when the death sentence was handed down to her. While some Islamists celebrated the ruling outside court saying, “God is great,” approximately 50 protesters held up placards demanding freedom of religion. According to a government spokesman, the ruling can be appealed in a higher court.
After the verdict, her husband Daniel Wani told the media, “I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do. I’m just praying.”
Ibrahim was arrested on February 7 along with her 20-month-old son and both were held in a woman’s prison allegedly after a relative turned her in for marrying a Christian man. According to Sudan’s Public Order Criminal Code, Ibrahim is Muslim by default because she was born in Sudan and thus her decision to convert to a different faith and marry a Christian man qualifies as a criminal act. She was charged with adultery and apostasy on March 4 – while the first charge requires her to receive 100 lashes, the second charge requires her to be punished with death. According to the court ruling, Ibrahim, who is pregnant with her second child, will receive the punishments after her child is born.
Wani has been prohibited from caring for his own child Martin who is only two-years-old and currently in prison with his mother. Young students have mounted a series of protests near Khartoum University asking Sudanese authorities to end human rights abuses and grant more freedom to citizens but the university was asked to shut down indefinitely on May 11.
“The details of this case expose the regime's blatant interference in the personal life of Sudanese citizens,” said a youth group named Sudan Change Now Movement.
Sudanese activists and western embassies have condemned the fundamentals of Sudan’s Islamist-led government and urged them to respect freedom of faith.
“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,” said the embassies of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Netherlands in a joint statement.
Photo Credits: Daily Mail UK