May 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The US government said it is “deeply disturbed” by the sentencing on Thursday of a pregnant Christian Sudanese woman to death by hanging for apostasy after she refused to recant her faith.
A Khartoum court convicted 27-year-old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who is in custody with her 20-month-old son and eight months pregnant with her second child, of the charges on 11 May and gave her three days to return to Islam.
The judge in her trial also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery as under Sudan’s Islamic Shari’a law her marriage to a non-Muslim is considered invalid and therefore an adulterous relationship.
In a brief statement issued from Washington on Thursday, deputy department spokesperson Marie Harf said it understood the court sentence can be appealed and urged Sudanese authorities to show compassion.
“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,” said Harf.
“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,” she added.
Sudan Tribune understands that Ibrahim’s husband, Dr Daniel Wani, is a South Sudanese-born US citizen.
Amnesty International said Ibrahim was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013 after a family member reported her to authorities for committing adultery. The charge of apostasy was later added when Ibrahim, who was raised an Orthodox Christian, told the court that she was not a Muslim.
Human rights groups have condemned the ruling, saying it was in breach of international law, while Amnesty described the sentence as “truly abhorrent”.
It issued a statement saying apostasy and adultery should not be considered criminal acts and calling for Ibrahim’s immediate release.
Her lawyers say they plan to lodge an appeal to a higher court in an attempt to have her sentence overturned.
There have been no known executions for apostasy since the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Code was enacted, although many have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned after recanting their faith.