Skip to main content

Christian woman could face death for her faith in Sudan

By Jessica King and Dana Ford, CNN
May 15, 2014 -- Updated 0424 GMT (1224 HKT)
File photo: A Sudanese woman holds a cross as she prays.
File photo: A Sudanese woman holds a cross as she prays.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was convicted of apostasy and adultery
  • She considers herself Christian, but a court contends that she is Muslim
  • She could be sentenced to death and to flogging
  • Foreign embassies in Khartoum are urging the government to reverse course

(CNN) -- A Christian woman in Sudan reportedly has until Thursday to either recant her faith or face a possible sentence of death.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was convicted by a Khartoum court this week of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith, Amnesty International said Wednesday, a day before the expected ruling. The court considers her to be Muslim.

According to the rights group, she was also convicted of adultery because her marriage to a Christian man was considered void under Sharia law.

"The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered," Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, said in a statement.

"'Adultery' and 'apostasy' are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of 'most serious crimes' in relation to the death penalty. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law," the researcher said.

Ibrahim is eight months pregnant and currently in custody with her 20-month-old son, according to Amnesty International, which considers her a prisoner of conscience.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, another rights group, described Ibrahim's case as follows:

She was born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left when she was 6 years old, and Ibrahim was raised by her mother as a Christian.

However, because her father was Muslim, she was considered by the courts to be the same, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

In past cases involving pregnant or nursing women, the Sudanese government waited until the mother weaned her child before executing any sentence, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide spokeswoman Kiri Kankhwende.

After-hours attempts Wednesday to contact the Justice Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister in Sudan were unsuccessful.

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.

Journalist Isma'il Kushkush contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 0358 GMT (1158 HKT)
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT