International Christian Concern
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William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pregnant Mother Sentenced to Death by Sudanese Court As U.S. Celebrates Mother's Day
Mother Pregnant with Second Child Convicted of Apostasy, Adultery
International Christian Concern
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Christian mother pregnant with her second child has been formally convicted of adultery and apostasy, punishable by 100 lashes and death respectively. The morning of May 11, Ibrahim appeared before the El Haj Yousif Public Order Court in Khartoum, Sudan to defend her innocence to charges of adultery and apostasy handed down by that same court on March 4 of this year.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, age 27, was raised an Orthodox Christian in a small town located in Western Sudan. A graduate of Khartoum University, Ibrahim was a practicing MD when she married her husband, a South Sudanese Christian, Daniel Wani. Sometime after discovering her relationship with Wani, a relative of Ibrahim's reported her marriage to police specially tasked with enforcing Sudan's Public Order Criminal Code. Having been born in Sudan, Ibrahim is considered a Muslim by birth, making her marriage to Wani, a non-Muslim, illegal in the eyes of Sudan's public order courts
Without charge and before receiving a fair, public trial, Ibrahim was arrested by Sudanese authorities and arbitrarily detained in the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison with her 20-month-old son February 17.
Justice Center Sudan (JCS), a local human rights organization providing Ibrahim's legal defense has expressed its intent to submit an appeal on her behalf. According to the JCS legal team, headed by Center Co-founder Mohand Mustafa, Ibrahim has been pressured by Sudanese officials and religious authorities to convert from Christianity to Islam, allegedly rendering promises to reduce, if not eliminate, the charges against her for doing so. The Center could neither confirm nor deny Ibrahim's intention to or to not convert.
She and her child remain imprisoned, separated from their husband and father, Daniel Wani, whose passport has reportedly been revoked by the government of Sudan. Experts anticipate the sentences against Ibrahim will be carried out following the birth of her unborn child, which is expected to take place next month. According to JCS, Ibrahim has suffered beatings during her imprisonment, been denied medical treatment, including prenatal care for her unborn child, and been refused prenatal vitamins necessary to ensure a healthy birth.
Due to her being convicted of adultery, Daniel Wani is now legally ineligible to assume custody of his and Ibrahim's children. They are expected to be turned over to the custody of the Sudanese State, in the case of Ibrahim's execution or prolonged imprisonment. Since Sudan's adoption of the Public Order Criminal Code in 1991, no convicted persons have been put to death for violation of the Shari'ah-inspired law.
Sudan's government, led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been found guilty of"systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief," according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The U.S. Department of State has designated Sudan a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) since 1999. According to USCIRF's 2014 Annual Report, the Government of Sudan imposes"a restrictive interpretation of Shari'ah law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike, using amputations and floggings for crimes and acts of 'indecency' and 'immorality' and arresting Christians for proselytizing."
ICC's Regional Manager, William Stark, said, "We grieve today at the sentencing to death of a mother, pregnant with her second child, for the expression of her faith and legal marriage to a practicing Christian. The handing down of such an extreme punishment under a law inspired by the al-Turabi radicalism of the early al-Bashir regime brings into question the direction Sudan intends to head following South Sudanese succession. Having embraced policies of Islamization and Arabization in the past, ICC fears Meriam could be the first of many more Christians to suffer under an increasingly radicalized Sudanese government intent on enforcing Shari'ah law throughout the land."
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-AfricaAsia@persecution.org
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