A SUDANESE woman has been sentenced to death after being
convicted of apostasy last week.
Meriam Ibrahim, aged 26, was convicted on Sunday, but given four
days to reconvert to Islam and escape the death penalty. Mrs
Ibrahim, who is pregnant, denied that she had ever been a
She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, because the
Islamic sharia court did not recognise her marriage to her
Christian husband as legitimate.
Reports suggest that Mrs Ibrahim was the daughter of an
Christian woman and a Muslim Sudanese man. However, she was raised
as a Christian after her father left the family when she was a
She married her husband in 2011 and the couple have an
18-month-old son together. The advocacy group Christian Solidarity
Worldwide (CSW) said in a statement on Thursday that Mrs Ibrahim
and her young son, Daniel Wani, are currently in prison. Her
lawyers have said that they intend to appeal both the death
sentence and the 100 lashes.
The minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, said in a statement on
Thursday: "This barbaric sentence highlights the stark divide
between the practices of the Sudanese courts and the country's
international human rights obligations. I urge the Government of
Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief."
On Monday, a Sudanese diplomat was summoned from his embassy to
the Foreign Office by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to
discuss Mrs Ibrahim's case.
A Foreign Office statement said that the diplomat, Charge
d'Affaires Bukhari Afandi, was told that the Government had deep
concerns about the death sentence and requested that he urge the
Sudanese government to overturn the decision.
Muslim women in Sudan are banned from marrying non-Muslims, and
children must follow their father's religion by law. Despite the
introduction of sharia law in the 1980s, death sentences are rarely
On Thursday, the BBC reported that rival groups of protestors,
both for and against Mrs Ibrahim's death sentence, confronted each
other outside the court, but the clashes did not become
The death sentence has been denounced by Lord Carey, the former
Archbishop of Canterbury. Speaking to The Sunday Times, he
said: "Isn't there something fundamentally wrong with Islam
at its core that it cannot allow people to change their religion?
Moderate Muslims ... have to say enough is enough."
He also said that British Muslim leaders should publically
acknowledge that Muslims could convert to Christianity if they
Andy Dipper, the chief operating officer of CSW, said: "CSW
continues to call for the annulment of the inhumane and unwarranted
sentence and for the immediate release of Mrs Ibrahim and her son,
who is being held in violation of article 37 of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child."
The statement from CSW also said that Mrs Ibrahim had been
prevented from accessing necessary medical treatment and from
receiving visitors while incarcerated.
The General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the
UK, Bishop Angaelos, denounced both Mrs Ibrahim's sentence and
the forced conversion to Islam of more than 200 Christian
schoolgirls in Nigeria following their abduction by Boko Haram (
News, 16 May).
In a statement on Friday, he said: "We must not
forget those around the world who continue to face intense
persecution for merely attempting to live out their chosen faith.
We also continue to pray and advocate for the rights of these
individuals and communities so that this God-given freedom may be
exercised within the context of peaceful co-existence and
On Thursday, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, Manar
Idriss, said: "The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death
for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a
man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent."