Convicted of apostasy for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity.
This horrific story comes on the heels of a 2014 Pew Research Center report that indicated Christians were the religious group most likely to be persecuted worldwide.
CNN reported yesterday that Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a 27 year old Christian Sudanese woman was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death by a court in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Ibrahim, who is married, was also convicted of “adultery.”
According to the rights group Amnesty International, she was convicted of adultery because her marriage to a Christian man was considered void under Sharia law. She was sentenced to 100 lashes for the second crime.
The story is an example of the extreme religious intolerance Christians are facing in many countries throughout the world, although Sudan’s basic human rights violations have been noted by the State Department to be particularly egregious.
According to CNN, a human rights group called Christian Solidarity Worldwide revealed that Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father, and an orthodox mother. Ibrahim’s father left when she was 6 and, accordingly, she was raised by her mother as a Christian. Despite her being raised Christian, she was seen by the court as Muslim due to the fact that her father was Muslim. The court then found her guilty of apostasy, a crime apparently sufficient for the court to hand down the death penalty under Sharia law.
The country imposes Sharia law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike and punishes acts of “indecency” and “immorality” by floggings and amputations, the commission said.
“Conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death, suspected converts to Christianity face societal pressures, and government security personnel intimidate and sometimes torture those suspected of conversion,” the commission, whose members are appointed by the president, said in its report.
While Ibrahim’s plight might already seem as bad as it could be, it gets worse. She is 8-months pregnant and currently sits in custody with her 20-month old son, according to Amnesty International.
Ibrahim’s pregnancy, however, may have bought some time for international groups to intervene on her behalf.
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.
Amnesty International has issued a statement calling for her immediate release.
“Amnesty International believes that Meriam is a prisoner of conscience, convicted solely because of her religious beliefs and identity, and must be released immediately and unconditionally. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which includes the freedom to hold beliefs, is far-reaching and profound; it encompasses freedom of thought on all matters, personal conviction and the commitment to religion or belief.”
For now, Ibrahim remains in custody.
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