A 27-year old woman from Sudan was sentenced to death by hanging because she converted to Christianity and refused to change decision, despite calls from Western countries to respect her right to choose religion.
The young woman, who is eight months pregnant, was held prisoner along with her son for 20 months, and as informed by Amnesty International, while calling for her immediate release, she was also sentenced to 100 lashes for “adultery”, because she married a Christian! “We gave you three days to renounce your religion, but you insisted not to return to Islam. I condemn you to death by hanging” judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa said addressing the woman with the surname of her father, who is Muslim. When the judge announced his decision, Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag within her Christian name, remained expressionless.
It’s worth noting that during the hearing, after a lengthy intervention of a Muslim cleric who tried to convince Mariam, she told the judge: “I’m a Christian”. At the same time about 50 people protested outside the courtroom during the penalty. “No to the execution” and “Religious rights are constitutionally protected” were written on the placards held, while one of the protesters called on the assembled to continue their protests, conducting sit-ins until Mariam is released. On the other hand there were some Islamists gathered who shouted “God is great”.
Among the hundred people who went to court to hear the decision were diplomats from the West. From Tuesday, embassies of the U.S., Canada, Britain and Netherlands expressed “grave concern” for the fate of the unfortunate woman. “We ask the government of Sudan to respect the freedom of religion, including the right to change religion and faith” they said in a joint announcement referring to the right from the Sudan Interim Constitution of 2005 and the international instruments for the defense of human rights.
According to Amnesty International, Mariam was brought up as a Christian orthodox, religion of her mother, because her Muslim father was absent. The “adultery” is based on the fact that she married a Christian, as in the basis of Islamic law in force in Sudan a Muslim woman can’t marry a man of another religion.