23 June 2014

Sudan Court Frees Christian Woman Meriam Yahya Ibrahim

Photo: Gabriel Wani/Facebook
Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani.

A court in Sudan has ordered the release of a 27-year-old woman who was sentenced to death last month for marrying a Christian. The case of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim triggered an international outcry.

On Monday, Mohaned Mostafa, one of four lawyers representing Ibrahim for free, said a court had let her go after she was condemned in May to hang for apostasy under Shariah law.

Some interpret the religious legal code, in force in Sudan since 1983, to mandate the death penalty for converting from Islam. The original sentence had also called for Ibrahim to receive 100 lashes for adultery.

Mostafa said Ibrahim - born to a Muslim father who abandoned the family when she was five and raised by her Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother - had gone "to an unknown house to stay at for her protection and security." He added that "her family had been threatened before and we are worried that someone might try to harm her."

Birth ordeal

Locked up with her toddler son, Ibrahim gave birth to a daughter 12 days into her confinement while shackled to a floor at the women's prison in Omdurman, near Khartoum. After the birth of their second child, her husband, Daniel Wani, told the news agency AFP that he did not believe officials would release her. Though he has a United States passport, Wani was born in Khartoum.

That all changed on Monday: "The appeal court ordered the release of Meriam Yahya and the cancellation of the court ruling," Sudan's SUNA news agency reported.

Ibrahim's case made news around the world. Amnesty International called her sentence "abhorrent."

EU leaders had called for revocation of the "inhumane verdict," and US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Khartoum to repeal its laws banning Muslims from converting. British Prime Minister David Cameron called Ibrahim's treatment "barbaric" and said it had "no place in today's world."

mkg/se (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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