A court has given a 27-year old Sudanese woman, Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag some 24 hours, ending tomorrow, to abandon her Christian faith as a result of her marriage to a Christian or face death sentence.
Judicial sources said that Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, who was born to a Muslim father, has been charged with apostasy, as well as adultery, for marrying a Christian man, saying that Islam prohibits Muslim woman from marrying to Christian as such marriage is void.
The human rights group, Amnesty International, said Ishag was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her Muslim father was absent.
Ibrahim’s case was the first of its kind to be heard in Sudan. A final ruling will be announced tomorrow, Thursday.
Sudanese rights activists sharply condemned the accusations and called on the Sudanese government to respect freedom of faith.
“The details of this case expose the regime’s blatant interference in the personal life of Sudanese citizens,” Sudan Change Now Movement, a youth group, said in a statement.
Western embassies in Khartoum also expressed “deep concern” over the case.
“We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs,” the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said in a joint statement.
The embassies urged Sudanese legal authorities “to approach Ms Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people”.
Sudan’s Information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman said: “It’s not only Sudan. In Saudi Arabia, in all the Muslim countries, it is not allowed at all for a Muslim to change his religion.”
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government is facing a huge economic and political challenge after the 2011 secession of South Sudan, which was Sudan’s main source of oil.
A decision by Bashir last year to cut subsidies and impose austerity measures prompted violent protests in which dozens were killed and hundreds were injured.