Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Sudanese prisoner of conscience gives birth to baby girl

Lawyers for a Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy by a civil court in Khartoum have filed an appeal seeking to overturn her conviction

Lawyers for a Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy by a civil court in Khartoum have filed an appeal seeking to overturn her conviction. On 11 May 2014 Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a 27 year old mother of a 20 month old child was given three to repudiate her Christian faith and become a Muslim. If she refused, she would be executed for apostasy. Last week Mrs. Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl while in prison. Her execution has been stayed for two years while the child is weened. Claims that Mrs. Ibrahim will soon be released made by unnamed Sudanese government ministers have been greeted with caution by her lawyers. Born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother, Mrs. Ibrahim was reared as a Christian after her father abandoned the family when she was six. However, under Shariah Law a child of a Muslim father is considered a Muslim. Mrs. Ibrahim, who married a South Sudanese Christian, was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to receive 100 lashes for the crime of marrying a Christian. Under the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence followed in Sudan, apostates are divided into two categories: parental and innate. Innate apostates were those whose parents were Muslim, made a profession of Islam—the Shahada-as an adult and then left the faith, while parental apostates were those born in non-Muslim families and converted to Islam as an adult, and then left the faith. Punishment for an innate apostate is death under Sudanese law, while a parental apostate is given three days to recant their apostasy.  The case has prompted an international outcry with Western governments, NGOs and church leaders calling for her release. Sudanese opposition leaders have also denounced the decision saying it violates the country’s constitutional right to freedom of religion. Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas stated Mrs. Ibrahim’s “continued imprisonment violates international statutes to which Sudan is a signatory as well as article 38 of the country’s interim constitution which guarantees freedom of religion or belief for all and in particular states that ‘no person shall be coerced to adopt such faith that he/she does not believe in, nor to practice rites or services to which he/she does not voluntarily consent.’ CSW calls on the international community to hold Sudan to its international obligations and to provisions contained within its constitution.”

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