LAWYERS for Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian sentenced to
death last month for allegedly renouncing Islam, have accused the
court in Sudan of bias and incompetence.
In appeal documents seen by The Times, the lawyers
accuse the judge, Abbas Mohammed al-Khalifa, of relying on "weak
and contradictory" evidence and delivering a "religious
They note that Sudan's 2005 constitution explicitly allows for
freedom of religion, and argue that, regardless, the case was a
matter for the family courts, not the criminal court that handed
down the death penalty, and a sentence of 100 lashes for alleged
adultery. "It would seem as if the court treated [Mrs Ibrahim] as
if she were an enemy of Islam. This has stripped the court of its
independence and impartiality," the lawyers argue.
Mrs Ibrahim, who is 27, remains in Omdurman women's prison while
her appeal is being heard, with her 18-month-old son, Martin, and
newborn daughter, Maya. She gave birth while chained to the floor,
on 27 May (News, 30 May).
A man who says that he is her brother, Al Samani al-Hadi, has
argued that she had been drugged by her Christian husband, Daniel
Wani, to make her convert to Christianity. He also said that if she
did not recant, she should be hanged.
"It's one of two - if she repents and returns to our Islamic
faith and to the embrace of our family, then we are her familyand
she is ours," he told CNN. "But if she refuses, she should be
"If she dies, we will have en- forced God's word. The solution
is that she is executed. The world should not involve itself in our
family affairs. This is a family, and these are our private
Mrs Ibrahim, however, told the court last month that, despite
being born to a Muslim father, she had been raised by her mother as
a Christian, and had never practised Islam.
Mr Wani has suggested that his wife's family is pursuing the
prosecution to gain control over her money and successful
businesses. "If she recants, they are going to give her to her
cousin. They want her money." He told The Daily Telegraph
that the court had "said our marriage is invalid. If she recants,
it means she is not going to be my wife."
As a United States citizen, Mr Wani said he was also calling on
President Obama to intervene and to put pressure on the Sudanese
government to release Mrs Ibrahim.
On Tuesday, the heads of the three main EU institutions urged
the Sudanese authorities to free her. José Manuel Barroso, Herman
Van Rompuy, and Martin Schulz - the presidents of, respectively,
the European Commission, Council, and Parliament - said that Sudan
had an "international obligation to protect the freedom of religion
and belief". They called for "this inhumane verdict" to be
Other prominent figures, including the Archbishop of Canterbury,
the Prime Minister, and Hillary Clinton, have already condemned her
death sentence and demanded her release (News, 6
Some 58 MPs, including the Second Church Estates Commissioner,
Sir Tony Baldry, have signed a letter to the Sudanese Ambassador to
the UK, asking for her immediate release. There was also a protest
outside the Sudanese embassy in London on Friday of last week. The
event was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association,
whose chairman, Wilson Chowdhry, said: "Christian persecution in
the Islamic world has reached unprecedented levels."
Also present were members of Harif, an organisation that
represents Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa. Its
leader, Lyn Julius, said: "The conditions faced by minorities
living in the region have reached a nadir."