Sudan: Woman Sentenced to Death

Wife of U.S. Citizen to Be Hanged for Apostasy

The birth of a healthy baby girl is usually a joyous occasion. But when Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to her daughter, Maya, on Tuesday, May 27, it triggered a two-year countdown to her execution.

On May 15, the 27-year-old Sudanese doctor was sentenced to death for apostasy by a Sudanese court. In addition, she is to endure 100 lashes for the crime of committing adultery—with her Christian husband. The judge ruled that the lashing would be carried out after she had recovered from delivering her baby and that her death by hanging would occur when her baby reached age two, so she would have time to nurse the infant.

During her trial, the judge asked the young woman three times to recant her Christian faith, but she refused each time.

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Since her arrest on Feb. 17, Meriam’s 20-month-old son, Martin, has been staying with her in prison. Because Meriam’s husband, Daniel Wani, is a Christian, the Sudanese government sees him as an unfit father. Daniel reported that Meriam has been held in shackles and mistreated by Muslim prisoners. In addition, Muslim scholars have visited her in prison, entreating her to return to the religion of her father.

According to the charges filed against Meriam, her father was a Muslim, which means she is legally considered a Muslim. But Meriam says she was born in Darfur and raised by her Christian, Ethiopian mother. Her father left the family when Meriam was 6. Before her mother’s death, they moved to Khartoum, where Meriam attended the prestigious University of Khartoum School of Medicine. She met Daniel, who was visiting from the United States, at the church she attended, and they got married in 2011.

Daniel, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound, went to Sudan last summer to arrange for his wife and son to move to his home in New Hampshire. Daniel became a U.S. citizen in 2005, after leaving Sudan in 1998.

Last year, someone claiming to be Meriam’s relative said she had left Islam, and a court ruled that she was guilty of adultery because of her marriage to a Christian man. Later, when Meriam refused to recant her faith, she was also charged with apostasy. Meriam denies knowing any of the people claiming to be her relatives.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese embassy issued a statement on Meriam’s case:

This case remains a legal issue and not a religious or a political one. It is unwise and dangerous to politicize the issue at hand to spur religious tension between the two peaceful faiths with similar foundations. Notably, it is important to emphasize that freedom of choice is the cornerstone of both Islam and Christianity.

If Meriam is put to death, she will be the first person to be executed for apostasy in Sudan since Shariah law was introduced in the criminal code, in 1991. The case is under appeal, and her lawyers are receiving death threats from Islamic militants.

Post a prayer for Meriam at iCommitToPray and learn more at the Persecution Blog.

Sources: Morning Star News, Christianity Today, Nuba Reports, VOM Sources

Posted: May 30, 2014


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