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Christian Woman in Sudan Sentenced to Death on Charges of Apostasy, Adultery

"We call on all concerned citizens: Speak out for this family." -- Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- A Christian woman has been sentenced to death by a Sudanese court after refusing to recant her faith. Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, raised a Christian by her mother and the daughter of a Muslim father, was charged with apostasy and adultery for marrying a South Sudanese Christian man. The government of Sudan considers all Sudanese-born children of a Muslim father to automatically be Muslim themselves.

According to Reuters, Judge Abbas al Khalifa asked Ibrahim whether she would "return" to Islam. After she said "I am a Christian," the death sentence was handed down, the judicial sources said.

Reportedly Ibrahim, currently imprisoned along with her 20-month-old son, a U.S. citizen, will be permitted to give birth to the unborn child she carries and raise the child for two years, at which time the child will be taken away and the sentence carried out. According to the Daily Mail, husband Daniel Wani is not allowed by the court to care for their children, because he is a Christian.

IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:

    "We strongly condemn the appalling treatment of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim. This young wife and mother has been a Christian her whole life, and imposing a fraudulent claim by Islam on her because her absent father -- who abandoned his family -- was a Muslim violates international standards of human rights and religious freedom.

    "Moreover, we are extremely distressed by the inaction of the United States government on behalf of American citizen Daniel Wani and his family. If Daniel had received in a timely manner the applied-for spousal visa to bring his wife to the United States, none of this would have happened. Now the wife of an American citizen, a 20-month old American citizen -- their son, Martin, and an unborn American citizen are all incarcerated.

    "We call on all concerned citizens: Speak out for this family. Ask your members of Congress to urge the Obama Administration to defend the rights of an American citizen, his wife, and children."