Meriam Ibrahim apostasy death sentence leaves Sudan's Christians feeling unsafe

Meriam Ibrahim with her children, Martin and Maya.CNN video screenshot

Christians in Sudan are not attending church services like they used to in the wake of the Meriam Ibrahim apostasy case, activists have reported.

The Christians are afraid that they will be told to denounce their faith or receive a death sentence – the penalty under Sharia law for apostasy.

Ibrahim was sentenced on May 15 to 100 lashes and death by hanging for marrying a Christian and refusing to renounce her faith. Although she was raised by an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, Ibrahim is considered Muslim because this was the faith of her estranged father.

She has been held in the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North Khartoum with her 20-month-old son since January, and gave birth to a daughter in prison on May 27.

Sudanese activists say that after the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir enacted laws that persecuted Christians.

"If you look at the laws of the country, the laws favour Muslims," Christian Sudanese human rights lawyer Nabeel Adeeb told CNN.

"Number one, the crime of apostasy, which is creating a wall around Islam that nobody is allowed to leave."

According to the United Nations, over 97% of Sudan's population is Muslim.

Adeeb said he knows of around 200 cases in 2013 of Christians being deported for "evangelising".

"It was almost en masse," he said. "They confiscated Bibles and searched Christian centres, deported them without instigating any legal procedures."

Another activist summed up the fear that Sudanese Christians live with on a daily basis.

"The church is now contaminated with terror. You don't feel safe in prayer," the unidentified Christian told CNN.

Some Sudanese Christians are still gathering together to pray and ask God to protect Ibrahim.

"Father, we ask that You stand with Your child, Meriam," a Sudanese pastor prayed at a Sunday service. "We ask that You strengthen and support her and grant her Your grace."

If her appeal against the sentence is unsuccessful, Ibrahim will be executed when her daughter turns two years old.

Click here for information on how to take action to call for Ibrahim's release immediately.