A court has sentenced a woman to death in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, who is pregnant, was convicted last Sunday of apostasy in the Khartoum-area district of Haj Yousef. She had been given until today to give up her Christian faith.
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” said Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa as he delivered the sentence, addressing her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
Ishag responded to the sentence by saying: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
Owing to her Muslim father’s absence, Ishag was raised in the Christian Orthodox faith of her mother.
Earlier this week, several Western embassies in Sudan issued a joint statement expressing their “deep concern” in the case, calling upon the government “to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs.”
The statement, issued by the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, said that the right to freedom of religion included in Sudan’s 2005 interim constitution as well as in international human rights law.
Ishag has also been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, owing to her marriage to a Christian South Sudanese man. Such a relationship is considered adulterous according to Sudan’s interpretation of sharia law.
In their statement, the embassies urged authorities “to approach Ms Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people”.