Sudan likely to free mother on death row

June 01, 2014 - 12:57:52 am

KHARTOUM/London: A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for converting to Christianity is expected to be released soon, a government official said yesterday, after Khartoum came under diplomatic pressure to halt her execution.

“The related authorities in the country are working to release Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for apostasy, through legal measures,” Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdelah Al Azrak told Reuters.

“I expect her to be released soon,” he added.

World leaders have added their voices to the campaign to lift the death sentence given to Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy. They join her husband, Daniel Wani, in calling for the sentence to 

be dropped.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, and the US civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson were among those to speak out after Wani appealed for international support to free his wife from death row, where she is being held with her two young children after giving birth in shackles this week.

Cameron said he was “absolutely appalled” when he heard of the decision. 

“The way she is being treated is barbaric and has no place in today’s world. Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.”

His words were echoed by the Labour and Lib Dem leaders, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, and the former prime minister Tony Blair described the sentence as a “brutal and sickening distortion of faith”. Wani, a US citizen since 2005, said mounting international pressure could have a significant impact on the Sudanese authorities, and he felt overwhelmed by “the way people have come together around the world” to protest against his wife’s sentence. “I want to thank everyone for this stand. It’s looking like it had an effect. Perhaps it will result in the judgement being overturned,” he told CNN.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy this month. 

She told a court in Khartoum that she had been brought up as a Christian, and refused to renounce her faith. She and Wani married in 2011, but the court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.

Ibrahim, a graduate of Sudan University’s school of medicine, has been told that her death sentence will be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse 

her baby.

Condemnation of her sentence has gathered momentum. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed an Amnesty International petition in support of her release, including more than 150,000 in the UK. More than 600,000 people have added their name to a separate petition on change.org.

Justine Greening, the international development minister, tweeted: “Sudan must not allow the execution of Meriam Ibrahim to go ahead. #SaveMeriam.” Mia Farrow urged her Twitter followers to bombard the Sudanese embassies in London and Washington with calls demanding Ibrahim’s release.

Miliband said the situation was “utterly appalling” and an abhorrent abuse of Ibrahim’s human rights. 

The Guardian/Reuters

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