Sudan death sentence ‘barbaric’

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag says that as she was brought up as a Christian, she had not committed apostasy

David Cameron has urged the Sudanese government to lift the “barbaric” death sentence handed down to a Christian woman accused of abandoning Islam.

A court ruled that Meriam Ibrahim, who was raised by her Christian mother and married a Christian, was Muslim in line with her father – which she rejects.

The PM said he was “appalled” by the treatment of Ms Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter in her cell on Wednesday.

UK leaders Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband also condemned her death sentence.

Mr Cameron said the treatment of Ms Ibrahim had “no place in today’s world” and said the UK would “continue to press the government of Sudan to act”.

“Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.

“I urge the government of Sudan to overturn the sentence and immediately provide appropriate support and medical care for her and her children,” he said.

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As Andrew Harding reports, Dani Wani visited his wife in prison

Even though Ms Ibrahim, 27, was brought up as an Orthodox Christian, a Sudanese judge ruled earlier this month that she should be regarded as Muslim because it had been her father’s faith.

She has refused to renounce her Christianity and has been sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy.

According to Islamic law, Ms Ibrahim can nurse her baby daughter for two years before the sentence is carried out.

Her Christian marriage, in 2011, has also been annulled and she has been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery because her marriage is not valid under Islamic law.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population and Islamic law has been in force there since the 1980s.

‘Utterly appalling’

Deputy prime minister Mr Clegg called the sentence “abhorrent” and said it was a “flagrant breach of international human rights”.

“This case is a grave violation of the basic right and freedom to practise one’s religion,” he said.

Labour leader Mr Miliband said the incarceration of Ms Ibrahim was “utterly appalling and an abhorrent abuse of her human rights”.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of the religion they practice or the person they fall in love with.

“I cannot imagine the suffering – both physical and emotional – that Meriam, her husband and their two young children must be going through,” he said.

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair also described the case as a “brutal and sickening distortion of faith”, the Times newspaper reported.

Ms Ibrahim will be allowed to nurse her daughter for up to two years before the sentence is carried out

The human rights organisation Amnesty International meanwhile has launched a petition calling for the Sudanese government to release Ms Ibrahim.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, who is a US citizen, told the BBC he was hopeful an appeal against the sentence would be successful.

Mr Wani said he had seen his new daughter in prison on Wednesday – saying that mother and baby were both doing well.

However, he said he was most concerned about his 20-month-old son, who has been living with his mother in prison since February.

“His attitude has changed a lot,” Mr Wani said of his son.

“He used to be a happy boy. When I went there, he just looked at me. No smile,” he said.

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May 31st, 2014

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