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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Given 72 Hours to Renounce Jesus, Sudanese Mom Refuses, Is Sentenced to Flogging, then Death

  • Rob Kerby
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2014 May 16
  • Comments

Refusing an Islamic judge’s offer of clemency if she would publicly deny her faith Jesus Christ, a pregnant Sudanese mother of a toddler has been sentenced to death.

“Sudanese doctor Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, a graduate of the University of Khartoum Medical School, is the beautiful wife of an American,” reports Faith J. H. McDonnell, writing for the Counter-Jihad Report.“ After she refused to renounce Christianity, Sudan’s Public Order Court sentenced her to receive a public flogging of 100 lashes, then to be put to death by hanging.

The heavily pregnant Ibrahim “faces the death penalty for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity,” reports the Catholic Herald. “In a case widely condemned around the world and described as ‘abhorrent’ by Amnesty International, a court in El Haj Yousif Khartoum, confirmed the death sentence on Dr. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag after she refused to abandon her faith.”

Ibrahim denies the charges and told the court in March that she is a life-long Christian, “showing her marriage certificate as proof,”noted the Herald, “and stating that she was born in western Sudan to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left the family when Ibrahim was six years old and she was raised a Christian.”

However, Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa refused to hear that defense. “Three potential witnesses who came to testify to this effect were prevented from giving evidence,” reported the Herald.

The judge convicted her of apostasy and adultery, according to the Sudan Tribune. Her husband is American citizen Daniel Wani, a Christian who lives in New Hampshire.

“Under Sudan’s Islamic Shari’a law, a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim man, thus any such marriage is considered adulterous,” the Tribune reported.

According to CNN, during her sentencing hearing, a sheikh told the court "how dangerous a crime like this is to Islam and the Islamic community," said her attorney Mohamed Jar Elnabi.

"I am a Christian," Ibrahim fired back at the judge, "and I will remain a Christian."

Elnabi says he plans to appeal the verdict. In the meantime, Ibrahim remains in prison with 20-month-old son, Martin.

"She is very strong and very firm. She is very clear that she is a Christian and that she will get out one day," Elnabi told CNN.

Soon after Ibrahim wed Wani in December 2011, the American applied to bring his wife to America. “If there were justice in the world,”writes McDonnell, “today the Wani family would be awaiting the birth of a new baby while enjoying the gradual coming of spring in New Hampshire. There is, however, no justice in the world. Wani and Ibrahim remained in Khartoum and waited for Ibrahim’s visa to be approved, but up until today, this American citizen has not received permission to bring home his wife – and now also his son, who is by virtue of his father a U.S. citizen.” 

“I have tried to apply for papers to travel to the USA with my wife and child, but the American Embassy in Sudan did not help me,” Wani told Morning Star News

While Ibrahim was waiting for the U.S. government to grant her a spousal visa, Amnesty International says that a Muslim relative accused her of adultery and reported her to authorities.

Because of his non-Muslim “infidel” status, Wani is not recognized as the father of her unborn child or little Martin, who is staying with her in the prison.

“It’s bad enough that Wani’s parental rights have been violated by the Islamist regime in Khartoum,” writes McDonnell, “but less expected has been the lack of support that he has received from the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.”

Wani told Morning Star News that the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum expressed “no interest” in helping the family when his wife was arrested and that they have required a DNA test to prove he is the father before they will attempt to help.

“I will have to take a DNA sample in Khartoum, then send it to the USA for testing,” Wani said. “I have provided wedding documents and the baby’s birth certificate, and doors were closed on his face. My son is an American citizen living in a difficult situation in prison,” he declared sadly.

Wani said he has been prevented from seeing his wife and child since her incarceration and reports that she has not received proper medical care for complications for her pregnancy.

Police blocked Wani from entering the courtroom on Thursday, according to Elnabi who  appealed to the judge unsuccessfully.

Wani uses a wheelchair and "totally depends on her for all details of his life," Elnabi said. "He cannot live without her."

The couple's son, little Martin, is having a difficult time in prison.

"He is very affected from being trapped inside a prison from such a young age," Elnabi said. "He is always getting sick due to lack of hygiene and bugs."

Ibrahim is having a difficult pregnancy, the lawyer said. A request to send her to a private hospital was denied "due to security measures."

There also is the question of the timing of a potential execution. 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.

According to Morning Star News, “Ibrahim’s nightmare has included denial of bail, insufficient medical care for both her and her unborn child, beatings in prison, and a U.S. Embassy that has offered little help.” 

Morning Star News added that a prison guard has mistreated Ibrahim and not allowed visitations or medical help, and Wani informed them that “a Muslim woman in the jail has incited other Muslims to make life difficult for her.”

According to Sudanese human rights activist Safwan Abdalmoniem of the Hardwired organization, the Christian woman’s death sentence came after a three-day period given to her by Khartoum’s criminal court to attempt to persuade her to renounce her Christian faith and “return to” Islam, a process referred to as istitabah.

The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies says the court sent representatives of several Islamic organizations, including Munazzamat al-Da’wa al-Islamiia, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, to counsel Ibrahim on her faith.

If the sentence is carried out she will be the first person to be executed under the country’s apostasy code since it was introduced in 1991.

 

Publication date: May 16, 2014