Sudan woman on death row for apostasy gives birth
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Sudanese woman sentenced to death earlier this month after refusing to renounce her Christian faith has given birth in prison, local newspapers reported Thursday.
The independent Al-Sudani and Akhbar Al Youm dailies reported that 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to a girl Tuesday at the clinic at the Omdurman women’s prison near the capital, Khartoum.
Ibrahim, who is married to a Christian man, was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy. In light of her pregnancy, the judge allowed her two months to deliver her child and two years for breast-feeding before her execution.
Ibrahim’s lawyer Al-Shareef Ali al-Shareef Mohammed said her Muslim father left her mother when she was a child, and she was raised by her mother who is an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
A Khartoum court also ordered that Ibrahim be given 100 lashes for having what it considers illegal sexual relations with her husband, Daniel Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan who has U.S. citizenship, according to the lawyer and judicial officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Mohammed said he intends to appeal her conviction.
Ibrahim and Wani married in a church ceremony in 2011 and have a son, 18-month-old Martin, who is with her in jail. The couple runs several businesses, including a farm, south of Khartoum.
Wani was acquitted of a charge of harboring an apostate, said another defense lawyer, Eman Abdul-Rahim.
Amnesty International immediately condemned the sentence, calling it “abhorrent.” The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply disturbed” by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.
Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, a crime punishable by death. Anyone born to a Muslim father is automatically a Muslim. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father’s religion.
Sudan introduced Islamic Shariah laws in the early 1980s under the rule of autocrat Jaafar Nimeiri, a move that contributed to the resumption of an insurgency in the mostly animist and Christian south of Sudan. An earlier round of civil war lasted 17 years and ended in 1972. The south seceded in 2011 to become the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.
Sudanese President Omar Bashir, an Islamist who seized power in a 1989 military coup, says his country will implement Islam more strictly now that the non-Muslim south is gone.
A number of Sudanese have been convicted of apostasy in recent years, but they all escaped execution by recanting their new faith.