Sudan denies Christian mother Meriam will be freed

June 7, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Meriam IbrahimSudan, June 05, 2014: Sudan has retracted a claim made by a foreign ministry official that condemned Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim “will be freed within days”, saying she will be released only if the appeals court rules in her favour.

Abdullah Alazreg said on Saturday (31 June) that the “related authorities in the country are working to release Meriam through legal measures”, claiming that Sudan guaranteed religious freedom.

The statement was immediately dismissed by Meriam’s lawyers as an attempt to silence the international media following prominent coverage and widespread outrage over her case. She was sentenced to death for apostasy and to receive 100 lashes for adultery last month. Meriam gave birth to her second child, a girl named Maya, while shackled in prison last Tuesday (27 May).

On Monday (2 June), the Sudanese foreign ministry officially denied that Meriam would be freed, saying that Alazreg’s quotes had been taken “out of context”. It claimed that what Alazreg had actually said was that “the defence team of the concerned citizen has appealed the verdict … and if the appeals court rules in her favour, she will be released”.

The appeal process is likely to take months but it is hoped that international pressure could force the authorities to expedite the case. If the verdict is not overturned, Meriam will be executed two years after Maya’s birth to allow her to wean the infant – a provision made in line with sharia law as practised in Sudan.

World leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, have spoken out against Meriam’s sentence and a global campaign has been launched to save the Christian mother.

The case has also provoked condemnation within Sudan. Activists are defying the government and criticising its harsh implementation of sharia law. Four African organisations, the African Centre of Justice and Peace Studies, the Sudanese Organisation for Development and Rehabilitation, the Sudanese Human Rights Initiative, and the Justice Centre for Advocacy and Legal Consultancy, said Meriam’s fundamental rights had been violated. They called for the death sentence to be suspended and for Meriam and her two children to be released. Her 20-month-old son Martin is also with her in prison.

Meriam’s husband, Daniel Wani, was able to visit them in prison on Thursday (29 May), having previously been denied access. He said his wife and newborn daughter were in good health.

Daniel, who has dual US and Sudanese citizenship, is appealing to American officials to expedite the asylum process so that Meriam and their children can go immediately to the States if they are released. He said:

I am scared for all our lives – me, my wife and my children – if we have to remain inside Sudan, even a day after her release.

Under the strict application of sharia law in Sudan, Meriam is regarded as a Muslim because she was born to a Muslim father, even though her mother raised her as a Christian; she is considered to have left Islam – committed apostasy – even though she never practised it. Her marriage to a Christian is seen as invalid under sharia, which does not allow a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man. Meriam is therefore considered to have committed adultery. The sentence of 100 lashes is due to be carried out once she has recovered from giving birth.

Meriam has remained solid in her faith throughout her ordeal. She said:

I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live. I know I could stay alive by becoming a Muslim and I would be able to look after our family, but I need to be true to myself.

– barnabas team

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