Times are indeed changing and at times in ways we just cannot fathom. A heavily pregnant woman was forcibly removed with her toddler from her husband -based on the fact that she was married to a Christian and denounced her origin religion, Islam. As I write this she is in the midst of common criminals awaiting her death sentence!
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was arrested and charged with ‘adultery’ in August 2013 after a family member reportedly claimed that she was committing adultery because of her marriage to a Christian South Sudanese man. Under Shari’a law, as practised in Sudan, a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim man and any such marriage is considered ‘adultery’. The court added the charge of ‘apostasy’ in February 2014 when Meriam asserted that she was a Christian and not a Muslim. According to Meriam, she was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood.
Now, Meriam is being held in detention with her 20-month-old son. She is expecting her second child next month. She needs medical care and the support of her family, but if her conditions don’t change she will give birth in prison.
Sudan won’t hang Meriam while she is pregnant. The Criminal Code states that she must give birth first, and nurse her child for two years before her execution can go ahead. If Sudan does execute Meriam after this period, they will leave two young children motherless, as well as taking away Meriam’s right to life.
No date for her execution has yet been announced.
100 lashes for marrying a Christian
Meriam was first arrested in August last year because her husband is Christian. Under Sudan’s Sharia law, marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is illegal, and constitutes adultery.
One of her relatives had claimed that Meriam was committing ‘adultery’ for marrying outside of Islam, and reported her to authorities. But Meriam identifies as Christian – while her father is Muslim, he was absent during her childhood and she was raised Orthodox Christian by her mother.
On 15 May, the court ruled that the allegations of ‘adultery’ stood, and agreed that Meriam should face 100 lashes for being married to a Christian.
Flogging constitutes torture, and should never be used as a punishment. Moreover, ‘adultery’ is not a crime that should be punishable by the courts.
The Sudanese Criminal Code formally includes Shari’a law, including Article 126, which states that “(1) Whoever propagates the renunciation of Islam or publicly renounces it by explicit words or an act of definitive indication is said to commit the offence of Riddah (apostasy). (2) Whoever commits apostasy shall be asked to repent within a period decided by the court and if he insisted on his apostasy and was not a new convert he shall be punished with death. (3) Punishment for apostasy lapses if the apostate refrained from apostasy before the execution”. Article 146 on the ‘Penalty for Adultery’ states that “(1) Whoever commits the offence of adultery shall be punished with: (a) execution, by lapidation [stoning], where the offender is married; (b) one hundred lashes, where the offender is not married.”
There have been no known cases of people executed for ‘apostasy’ in Sudan since the 1991 Criminal Code was enacted, but many have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned after recanting their faith.
Amnesty UK have received tremendous support and we can only keep the momentum going, below are the details to contact specific government officials within the Sudanese administration directly as I have done:
Minister of Justice
Mohamed Bushara Dousa
Ministry of Justice,
PO Box 302 Al Nil Avenue
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ali Ahmed Karti
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box: 302, Republic Street
Fax: 00249 183 772941
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Minister of Interior
Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed
Ministry of Interior, PO Box 873
Also copies should be forwarded to:
His Excellency Mr Abdullahi Hamad Ali El Azreg, Embassy of the Republic of Sudan, 3 Cleveland Row, St James’s, London, SW1A 1DD
Fax: 020 7839 7560
Tel: 020 7839 8080
Email: http://www.sudan-embassy.co.uk (Contact form on website) / email@example.com
The email address for the Sudanese embassy is permanently down so I copied their Media Counsellor Dr. Khalid Al Mubarak (only email available on official website): firstname.lastname@example.org
My email to the Minister of Justice:
Subject: Release of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim
I write in relation to Meriam Yehya Ibrahim.
We are all human beings first and as a fellow human being I ask you to look upon Mrs Ibrahim with compassion.
Religion should never be a used as a weapon of destruction but rather as a mechanism for peace – from my understanding Islam translates to ‘peace’. If the name of your religion is in actuality a symbol of peace then the actions planned against Mrs Ibrahim disrupt this notion and go against the true meaning of the very same religion you believe should be upheld.
The world respectfully pleads with you to release this innocent woman – as a human being we have the right to select a faith in which we are spiritually fulfilled. You cannot justify your actions toward Mrs Ibrahim as protecting Islam due to the simple fact that religion should never interfere with one’s free will.
Please release Mrs Ibrahim
to her husband – allow her to be the wife and mother God in heaven has called her to be.
We urge the authorities to ensure that Mrs Ibrahim is released immediately and unconditionally because she is a prisoner of conscience, convicted solely because of her religious beliefs and identity;
We urge the authorities to repeal Articles 126 and 146 that criminalise apostasy and adultery respectively, in conformity with Sudan’s obligations under international human rights law;
We urge the authorities to establish a moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty, and to abolish the punishment of flogging.
I do hope the peace Islam that has been enshrined in you over the years will release a wave of compassion and see to the release of Mrs Ibrahim.
Or you can send a template appeal via Amnesty Uk here: Amnesty International UK STOP EXECUTION OF PREGNANT MOTHER IN SUDAN
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