By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
KHARTOUM/PRAGUE/THE HAGUE (BosNewsLife)– A Sudanese woman sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, has given birth to a baby girl in prison, her lawyers and local sources said.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, delivered her baby Monday, May 26, at a women’s prison in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, but her husband was not allowed to be present, according to Christians familiar with the case.
Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy, or abandoning Islam, some two weeks ago while she was eight months pregnant. A Khartoum court said the young woman could avoid being hanged by renouncing her Christian faith, but she refused.
The court also ordered Ibrahim be given 100 lashes for committing zina – an Arabic word for illegitimate sex – for having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man.
Her husband Daniel Wani, is a wheelchair-bound U.S. citizen and “totally depends on her for all details of his life,” said her lawyer in published remarks.
Lawyer Mohamed Jar Elnabi, who has appealed the sentence, said his client is held in an overcrowded prison with her 20-month-old son.
As in several Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith, according to observers familiar with the legislation. By law, children must follow their father’s religion.
Several governments have condemned Sudan’s planned execution. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka condemned the the sentence as “unacceptable”.
He said he asked Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek to make the Czech Republic’s opinion clear to his Sudanese counterpart Ali Ahmad Karti during their recent meeting in Prague, Radio Prague reported.
The Speaker of the lower house of Parliament Jan Hamáček also raised the issue with the Sudanese official.
The Czech Republic was part of Czechoslovakia under Communist-rule when human rights were violated on a massive scale. It joined the European Union in 2004, along with nine other mainly ex-Communist countries.
Elsewhere in the Netherlands, Foreign Minister Hans Timmermans also condemned the treatment of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim. He summoned the Sudanese ambassador saying Sudan should respect its international obligations.
“Freedom of religion and belief is a universal human right,” Timmermans stressed. Sudan signed the UN convention in which these rights are mentioned. They are also part of Sudan’s constitution.”
Experts say Sudan introduced Islamic sharia laws in the early 1980s and the move contributed to the resumption
of an insurgency in the mostly animist and Christian south of Sudan. An earlier round of civil war lasted 17 years and ended in 1972. The south seceded in 2011 to become the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.
Rights group Amnesty International (AI) said Ibrahim’s conviction and death sentence were “truly abhorrent”.
“The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent,” the London-based group said. “Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all.”
AI also called for Ibrahim’s immediate and unconditional release.
The statement came while thousands of kilometers away in Pakistan, a pregnant woman was stoned to death by her own family in front of a Pakistani high court on Tuesday, May 27, for marrying the man she loved, her husband said.
Farzana Parveen, 25, was attacked by nearly 20 family members, including her father and brothers. Her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, was also attacked with batons and bricks, but survived.
The incident reportedly happened in broad daylight before a crowd of onlookers in front of the high court of Lahore where the couple wanted to register their marriage, police investigator Rana Mujahid said.
Hundreds of women are murdered every year in Muslim-majority Pakistan in so-called “honor killings” carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior, but public stoning is extremely rare, rights activists say. The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said some 869 women were killed in honor killings in 2013.