Pregnant Christian woman will be allowed to give birth before being hanged

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim

A pregnant Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy in Sudan will be allowed to give birth before being hanged for apostasy.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was born to a Muslim father but was raised a Christian by her mother after he walked out on the family when she was just six years old.  

She was sentenced to hang for apostasy after marrying a Christian man and was also sentenced to receive 100 lashes for adultery because the court determined that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Islamic law.

The 27-year-old, who is heavily pregnant, was given three days to recant her faith but refused, after which the court in Khartoum upheld her conviction.  

Amnesty International, which is campaigning for her release, said she is due to give birth next month and is currently being detained with her 20-month-old son.  

The human rights group said a date had not yet been announced for her execution and that Sudan would not hang Ibrahim 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," Amnesty said.  

Britain's Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, has condemned the sentence and called upon Sudan to respect religious freedom. 

"I am truly appalled that a Sudanese court has sentenced Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag to death for apostasy," he said in a statement.

"This barbaric sentence highlights the stark divide between the practices of the Sudanese courts and the country's international human rights obligations.

"I urge the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief, including one's right to follow the religion or belief of their choice, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution.

"The UK opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and urges the Government of Sudan to join what is a clear global trend to abolition."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide is also campaigning for Ibrahim's release and is asking people to contact the Sudanese embassy.

It is asking that Christians pray:

• That the death sentence would be revoked and Meriam and Martin would be released from prison;
• For protection for Meriam, her unborn child and 20-month-old Martin;
• That Meriam and Martin would be allowed to receive visitors and medical treatment;
• That God would continue to give wisdom, courage and strength to Meriam at this wearing time;
• For peace, comfort and strength for Meriam's husband Daniel, who has been separated from his wife and son;
• For wisdom for Meriam's lawyers and that God would guide them as they work on her behalf;
• That the truth about Meriam's religious background would be accepted by the courts, and they would have compassion.