A court in Sudan has sentenced a pregnant Christian woman to death because of her faith, according to her lawyer. They add that the harsh punishment is due to her renouncing Islam.
CNN reports that Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was convicted of apostasy — renunciation of faith — by a Khartoum court which considers her to be a Muslim. The woman was convicted of adultery, her lawyer said, but he will appeal the sentence within the required 15 days.
According to the human rights organization Amnesty International — which is leading the protests in the case — Sudan sentenced the woman because she was married to a Christian man — which resulted in the adultery charges — something that is not recognized by Sharia law, and for which she received an additional sentence of 100 lashes.
Katherine Perks, a researcher with the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies, said in a statement regarding Sudan’s sentence of Ibrahim:
“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.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 15, 2014
Additionally, Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher, said of the sentence:
“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.”
“‘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 BBC, via AFP, reports the judge in Sudan sentenced the woman to death by hanging:
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.”
The sentenced woman, who is also pregnant, has been defended by Western hemisphere embassies, including those of the US, UK, Canada, and the Netherlands, and other human rights groups who are urging Sudan to respect Ibrahim’s right to choose her religion.
The judge in the case determined that the 100 lashes should be carried out after the woman recovers from giving birth.
The woman — who was raised an Orthodox Christian in Sudan — reportedly spoke with an Islamic cleric for about 30-minutes during sentencing, and later told the judge in a calm voice: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
Sudan issued the sentence on the grounds that Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims, according to the country’s version of Islamic law. The African nation is one of the worst places in the world for Christians to live in.
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