Meriam Yahia Ibrahim has been convicted of adultery and apostasy, punishable by 100 lashes and death respectively, by a Sudanese Public Order Court. Initially charged on March 4 following hers and her 20-month-old son’s arbitrary arrest and detention on February 17, Meriam has languished in Omdurman’s Federal Women’s Prison, separated from her legally-wed husband, Daniel Wani. Following her conviction Mother’s Day, Meriam has been given three days to convert to Islam. At a hearing set for Thursday, May 15, Meriam will either profess Islam and be sentenced to 100 lashes for committing adultery or stand strong in her Christian faith and be sentenced to death. Amnesty International has released an Urgent Action requesting the submission of appeals to the Sudanese government. You can write such an appeal here.
05/13/2014 Sudan (African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies) – Sudanese authorities must immediately release and review the conviction of 27-year old Meriam Yahia Ibrahim who was sentenced to lashings and death for the crimes of adultery and apostasy by a Khartoum Criminal Court on 11 May.
Ms. Ibrahim, a Christian woman who is in her ninth month of pregnancy and has been detained together with her infant child since 11 May 2014, was convicted by Al-Haj Yousef Criminal Court in Khartoum of adultery (zina) and apostasy (ridda) under Islamic law (Sharia) provisions of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code. She was initially arrested and released on bail on suspicion of adultery in September 2013 after her brother lodged a criminal complaint against her, alleging that she was a Muslim and as such was cohabiting illegally with a Christian man. It was later established that the couple had married in a church in 2012 and had a child together.
On 11 May 2014 the Al-Haj Yousef Criminal Court convicted Ms. Ibrahim of adultery after declaring her church marriage invalid on account of her Muslim faith and upbringing, based on the court testimony of a number of her family members. The penalty for adultery under Article 146 of the Sudanese Penal Code is 100 lashes where the offender is not married. She was also convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death on account of converting to Christianity. Article 126 of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code provides for the death penalty for any person found guilty of apostasy, a crime that is committed by any Muslim who advocates for the renunciation of the creed of Islam or publicly renounces his or her faith. The same article provides for the death penalty to be withdrawn if the defendant “repents” and “recants apostasy” before execution.
Handing down its decision on 11 May, the Al-Haj Yousef Criminal Court granted a period of three days for Ms. Ibrahim to renounce her Christian faith and return to Islam (referred to as istitabah in Arabic) to avoid the death sentence. The Court also invited two organisations, including Munazzamat al-Da’wa al-Islamiia, a non-governmental organisation affiliated to the Islamic brotherhood movement, to counsel Ms. Ibrahim on her faith.
An adultery case was also opened against her husband but dropped on account of his undisputed Christian faith and confirmation by the Court that he had married Ms. Ibrahim in a church.