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A court in the African nation of Sudan, which has been the site of a bloody civil conflict over the past decade, has condemned to death 27 year-old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim on the allegation that she committed apostasy, meaning that she abandoned her religion. The sentence has drawn wide condemnation for the absurdity of the charge, and especially for the fact that Ibrahim has a 20 month old child and is eight months pregnant.
Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and Muslim father. But after her father left the family, she was raised as an Orthodox Christian by her mother. Ibrahim, who works in Sudan as a doctor, was arrested on the charge of apostasy, namely abandoning one’s religion.
The prosecutor has argued that under Sudanese law, a person born to a Muslim father is a Muslim and that practicing any other faith is a crime punishable by death. Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa convicted Ibrahim of the “crime” on May 11, 2014, and sentenced her to death unless she recants her Christian faith in three days.
After Ibrahim refused to renounce her faith, stating that she is a Christian and, therefore, did not abandon her religion, the judge sentenced Ibrahim to death by hanging. Ibrahim was also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, which she supposedly committed by marrying and consummating her marriage with a Christian man from South Sudan. The marriage is considered void under Sharia law, making Ibrahim guilty of adultery.
The case has attracted wide international condemnation. The ambassadors from several nations, including the United States, have issued stern statements to the Sudanese government regarding the court’s decision to sentence Ibrahim to death. International human rights organizations have condemned the ruling, as well, and are looking for ways to prevent Sudanese officials from carrying out the sentence.
The case is perhaps especially outrageous because Ibrahim is eight months pregnant, and is currently detained in a Sudanese prison along with her 20 month-old child.