Urgent prayer call
An 8-months pregnant, 27-year-old Christian doctor has been sentenced to death and 100 lashes by a Sudanese court for marrying a Christian.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, has been imprisoned, along with her 20-month-old son, in Khartoum since February. She was brought up as a Christian and is married to a South Sudanese Christian with US citizenship—Daniel Wani—but because her father, who left her Christian mother when she was six, was a Muslim, the state does not recognise her marriage and charged her with adultery and apostasy (converting to Christianity) in March.
- That the death sentence would be revoked and Meriam would be released from prison;
- For protection for Meriam, her unborn child and her 20-month-old son;
- That God would give wisdom, courage and strength to Meriam at this wearing time;
- For peace, comfort and strength for Meriam’s husband ,who has been separated from his wife and son;
- That the truth of Meriam’s religious background would be accepted by the courts, and that they would have compassion in their treatment of her.
Western Embassies, Amnesty International and Christian rights groups have expressed deep concern about Ibrahim’s conviction and sentence by the El Haj Yousif Public Order Court in Khartoum on Sunday, June 11. She was sentenced to death for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery. The court implied that her sentence could be reduced or dismissed if she converts to Islam this week.
Middle East Concern reports that “there is no known precedent for such a verdict and sentence being issued by a Sudanese court against a follower of Jesus in recent times.”
Ibrahim’s case represents the increasing Islamization of Sudan ever since the 2011 secession of predominantly Christian South Sudan. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has made it clear that Sudan’s political stance going forward is a “100 per cent Islamic constitution, without communism or secularism or Western [influences].”
“Mrs Ibrahim’s sentence is the latest and most significant in a series of repressive acts by the Sudanese government against religious minorities,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). “If the sentence is carried out Mrs Ibrahim will become the first person to be executed for apostasy under the 1991 penal code, prompting concerns that the charge may increasingly be used against anyone who converts from Islam.”
CSW reports: The sentence comes months after the chairman of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, Ammar Saleh, accused the government of negligence in addressing apostasy and urged it to “stand against Christianisation and come up with a long term solution to the problem.” Although President al Bashir has repeatedly stated that Sudan’s new constitution would be “100% Islamic” and wholly based on Shari’a law, the new constitution has yet to be finalised, leaving the interim constitution in place, which references Shari’a as a source of law and not as the basis of the constitution. Since the charges against Mrs Ibrahim are based on Shari’a law, the interim constitution still provides for her right to freedom of religion or belief.
Human rights workers fear she could be given 100 lashes and then be put to death soon after her baby is born later this month.
Weak and tired
“Meriam is very weak and tired as the delivery day gets closer,” a Justice Center Sudan worker told MSN. “The Sudanese authority keeps pushing Meriam to announce Islamic faith.”
“She is psychologically tired,” Wani told MSN. “My wife was never a Muslim. As an American citizen, I ask the people and government of the USA to help me.”
The US Embassy in Sudan asked him to provide a DNA test to prove he is the father of his son, Wani told MSN. Wani would have to meet US requirements for his children to receive US citizenship.
The couple’s first born child has been in prison with his mother since her arrest because the authorities regard him as a Muslim and will not allow him to be raised by his father because he is a Christian. If her death sentence is upheld her children’s custody would be granted to the government.
Foreign embassies in Khartoum are urging the government there to reverse course.
“We call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution,” the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Netherlands said in a statement.
“We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms. Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” it read.