The Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum has released a statement expressing its “deep… disappointment” regarding the handling of the case of a Sudanese wife and mother who has been condemned to death for apostasy.
Yesterday’s statement was issued by Fr Mussa Kacho, Episcopal vicar of the Khartoum, exactly one month after Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag was sentenced to death for apostasy.
The statement, provided by Aid to the Church in Need, explains the history and current situation of Ishag.
Ishag, whose father was Muslim, was sentenced to be hanged after she married Daniel Bicensio Wani, a Catholic. The couple have a 20 month-old son, Martin, and a daughter who was born during Ishag’s incarceration.
Ishag and Wani were first arrested on 15 September on adultery charges, since a Christian man cannot marry a Muslim woman according to Sharia law. However, according to the statement, these charges were eventually dropped.
Although Ishag’s father was Muslim, she was raised according to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity of her mother, owing to her father’s abandonment of the family when she was young. She converted to Catholicism shortly before her marriage to Wani.
“The fact of the matter is that Mariam did not abandon the Islamic faith,” the statement reads, “but rather she, in the first place, did not follow the Islamic religion since her childhood.”
“Her case is currently in the court of appeal,” the statement says. “No one knows when the appeal court will decide on it. According to the concerned authorities, Mrs. Mariam can only be released on condition that she renounces Christianity and gets divorced from the husband.”
The statement added that the only way for Ishag to save her marriage would be to abandon her Christian faith, for her husband to convert to Islam, and for the two of them to be “remarried” according to the Islamic religion.
The case garnered international attention when Ishag was sentenced to death for apostasy, the statement says, adding that some reports contained inaccuracies.
“There are many people trying to persuade Mariam to renounce Christianity in order to be freed but she is refusing,” the statement reads. “Some people are pleading with her husband to convince her to abandon Christian faith in order to save her life but to no avail.”
In light of the facts of the case as provided in the statement, and “to honour Mariam’s steadfast position to maintain her Christian faith, we are pleading with the Judiciary and other concerned authorities to review the case against Mrs. Mariam and to bring it to a reasonable end.”