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16 May 2014

Death sentence sparks outrage

Death sentence sparks outrage

A death sentence for a pregnant, Christian Sudanese woman has sparked outrage around the world.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim was arrested in February this year for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. She has been sentenced to hang to death as well as receive 100 lashes for adultery because her marriage to a Christian man is not considered valid under Islamic law.

With a Muslim majority, Sudan is governed by Islamic law. However this sentence directly goes against the Sudanese Convention which states that citizens have the right to freedom of religion. It also contravenes international conventions which Sudan has agreed to.

Recently, the Sudanese government has been acting unjustly against religious minorities. Mrs Ibrahim's arrest and sentence is the latest and most concerning. If they go ahead with her sentence, she will be the first person killed for converting from Islam since the introduction of the current penal laws in 1991. If this happens, this will set a precedent which could be used against people in the future who choose to convert from Islam.

At her trial, Mrs Ibrahim produced evidence to support the fact she is a life-long Christian having been raised in the faith by her mother from a young age.

The Evangelical Alliance joins with other organisations including member organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in calling for this inhumane sentence to be repealed and for Meriam's immediate release.

Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance said: "Mrs Ibrahim's inhumane treatment at the hands of Sudanese authorities is abhorrent and uncalled for. It is deeply worrying to see a Christian woman have her right to religious freedom denied to her. Christians and the wider international community are rightly concerned not only for her wellbeing but for the religious liberty of other Sudanese Christians."

Media and human rights organisations around the world are reporting on the unjust actions being carried out against Meriam Ibrahim and calling for her release. The BBC coverage includes information about the country, the case and international reaction.

CSW are asking for email petitions to be sent to the Sudanese embassy, and information about how to do so can be found on their website.

Andy Dipper, CSW's chief operating officer said, "CSW continues to call for the annulment the inhumane and unwarranted sentence and for the immediate of Mrs Ibrahim and her son, who is being held in violation of article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a Sudanese citizen Mrs Ibrahim is entitled to freedom of religion of belief under the constitution."

Mrs Ibrahim's lawyers have launched an appeal but this could take months. The judge who handed down her sentence gave her 3 days to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. She has refused.

There are real concerns about Mrs Ibrahim's health and well-being. She is heavily pregnant and her husband has said she is being refused visitors and is not receiving medical care.

Freedom of religious belief along with freedom of thought and conscience are fundamental human rights which must be protected and upheld. They reflect society and it is through these freedoms that we will see individuals thrive and society flourish.

Amnesty International petition for Meriam