A court sentenced a pregnant, Christian Sudanese woman to death by hanging Thursday after she refused to renounce her faith, a decision Amnesty International called “abhorrent.”
Meriam Ibrahim, 27, was convicted on charges of “apostasy” — the crime of abandoning or renouncing a religion. The court also ordered Ibrahim — who married a Christian man in 2011 and is eight months pregnant — to receive 100 lashes for “adultery” because her marriage is considered void under sharia law. The couple has a child, a 20-month-old boy, who is currently in detention with her.
“The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent,” Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher, said in astatement. “Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law.”
Court officials gave Ibrahim three days to recant Christianity and return to Islam. When the deadline expired Thursday, Ibrahim told religious clerics in court in the capital of Khartoum, “I am Christian,” NBC News reported. Ibrahim’s lawyer said the verdict will be appealed within 15 days, CNN reported.
Amnesty International says Ibrahim was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her Muslim father was absent during much of her childhood.
However, the court considers Ibrahim to be Muslim. In Sudan, Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. Children must follow their father’s religion.
The embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands in Khartoum released a statement expressing deep concern over the ruling.
“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 statement said.