Statement of the WEA Religious LIberty Commission
The sentencing to death of an eight month-pregnant Christian woman for her alleged conversion from Islam, and to 100 lashes for having relations with her husband, is blatant violation of not only international human rights laws and Sudan’s own constitution, but also Islam and Sharia, WEA-RLC asserts.
“The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead,” Judge Abaas Al Khalifa told 27-year-old Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, who also has a 20-month-old son, after Islamist crowds shouted for the court to punish her on Thursday (May 15), according to the Morning Star News.
“I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim,” Ibrahim replied to the judge.
The young mother was convicted on April 30, and on May 11 she was given three days to recant her Christian faith.
Ibrahim’s father, a Sudanese Muslim, left home when she was 6 years old, and an Ethiopian mother, Ethiopian Orthodox, raised her as a Christian. But according to Sudan’s Islamic law, she was Muslim because her father was Muslim. The law also considers her relationship with her husband as “illicit” because he is a Christian.
Ibrahim’s attorneys will appeal the sentence on May 18.
“Handing the death sentence to a citizen just because she was raised as a Christian is unimaginable in today’s world,” WEA-RLC Executive Director Godfrey Yogarajah said. “Her marriage has also been declared as ‘illicit’ relationship, and she has been sentenced to flogging soon after she gives birth to a child. This is unthinkable brutality.”
As human rights groups have rightly said, the sentence flouts international human rights law. And it is clear violation of the Sudanese constitution, which provides for freedom of religion or belief.
“It is also distortion of Islam and Sharia, which are often used as an excuse for restricting rights,” Yogarajah said. “Most Muslims believe the Qur’an is about justice, which is also the purpose of Sharia. The sentence does not serve this purpose.”
Activists inside Sudan also condemned the court ruling and urged the government to uphold the freedom of belief for all people. “The details of this case expose the regime’s blatant interference in the personal life of Sudanese citizens,” Sudan Change Now Movement, a youth group, said in a statement.
The WEA-RLC joins groups inside Sudan and elsewhere in condemning the sentencing of Ibrahim for apostasy with utmost firmness. “We call on the Sudanese government to release the Christian woman immediately without any conditions attached,” Yogarajah added. “Let us take Ibrahim’s case to God’s throne in our prayers.”
The Religious Liberty Commission is monitoring the religious liberty situation in more than 100 nations, defending persecuted Christians, informing the global church, challenging the Church to pray (www.idop.org) and giving all possible assistance to those who are suffering. The Commission also makes fact finding trips and meets with governments and ambassadors speaking up for the suffering brothers and sisters. At the United Nations the Commission reports about the situation and arranges special hearings with Christians from countries under pressure.