Western Embassies have expressed deep concern for a Sudanese woman pregnant with her second child, who has been sentenced to death in Khartoum, for ‘apostasy’ [converting to Christianity] as well as to 100 lashes for committing adultery.
Mariam Yahia Ibrahim, who is 27-years-old and 8-months pregnant with her second child, received her death sentence on May 11. Despite her claimed faith in Jesus Christ, Sudanese authorities are claiming that she is a Muslim by virtue of the fact that she was born in Sudan.
Amnesty International reports that she has been given until her next hearing on Thursday May 15 to renounce her Christian faith, otherwise she is likely to be sentenced to flogging and death.
According to Justice Center Sudan, she was initially arrested and released on bail under suspicion of committing adultery in September 2013. Her brother lodged the criminal complaint against her, claiming that she was Muslim and therefore illegally cohabiting with a Christian man. It was later established that Ibrahim and her partner were married, in a church in 2012, and that they even had a 20-month-old son together.
Their first-born child has been in prison with his mother since her arrest because the authorities regard him as a Muslim and will not allow him to be raised by his father who is a Christian. Ibrahim’s unborn child is expected next month. If her death sentence is upheld her children’s custody would be granted to the government, as the husband is not granted any rights over his children due to being a Christian.
Justice Center Sudan, a local human rights organization that is appealing Ibrahim’s case on her behalf, said Ibrahim has been under pressure to convert from Christianity to Islam with the promise to reduce or eliminate the charges, but there are no confirmed reports regarding her response.
This case is unique to Sudan, as there are no other documented sentences from Sudanese courts that are based on people of different faiths coming together in marriage.
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies says this case demonstrates “the internal contractions of Sudanese law and its incompatibility with Sudan’s diverse population and international commitments”.
Sudan is ranked as the 11th most difficult country to be Christian of 50 countries to be ranked on the 2014 World Watch List.
The World Watch List is published annually by Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians who live under pressure because of their faith.