By BosNewsLife Africa Service
KHARTOUM, SUDAN (BosNewsLife)– Lawyers who represented Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, the Christian mother whose conviction for apostasy and adultery was overturned, are being prevented from leaving Sudan following death threats, BosNewsLife learned Saturday, September 20.
In an unprecedented decision, Sudan’s Lawyers Admissions Committee issued her leading attorney, Mohaned Mustafa and four colleagues with travel bans, trial observers said.
That controversial decision was reportedly made after Ibrahim’s former lawyer, Iman Hassan Abd alrahim, said they “had poached” his client.
Although Ibrahim was freed, her case is currently before the Supreme Court after her family allegedly appealed against the decision to overturn her convictions, which were linked to her decision to embrace the Christian faith and abandon Islam.
Nearly two months after finally being allowed to flee her native country and taking refuge in the United States, Ibrahim, 27, said this week she had been subjected to intense daily pressure while in prison to accept conversion to Islam. However she stressed that she consistently refused to give in to her captors’ demands.
“If I did that that would mean that I gave up,” she said in an interview. “It’s my right to follow the religion of my choice. I am not the only one suffering from this problem.”
She made clear she would never leave her faith in Christ. “If you don’t have your faith, then you are not alive.” There was an international outcry when a court in Khartoum sentenced her to 100 lashes and death by hanging.
An international campaign for her release won the support of world leaders. Pregnant at the time of her sentencing, she was refused access to proper medical care for the baby’s birth. “I was supposed to give birth at a hospital outside of prison but they denied that request as well,” she recalled in an interview with Fox News television.
Lawyers of the mother-of-two, who is married with an American citizen, not face threatening phone calls from extremists accusing them of being ‘unIslamic’ for representing Ibrahim and for challenging Sudan’s apostasy laws, rights activists confirmed.
The chief executive of advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife he was concerned about their situation. “By defending Mrs Ibrahim’s case at the Supreme Court and questioning the constitutionality of Sudan’s apostasy provisions, Mr Mustafa and his colleagues are upholding a right that is guaranteed under Sudan’s interim Constitution,” said the official, Mervyn Thomas.
“The unwarranted issuing of travel bans against Mr Mustafa and his colleagues by Sudan’s regulatory legal body highlights the lack of independence of the legal system” and violates international agreements signed by the country, he added.
“The freedom of lawyers to defend their clients without facing harassment and intimidation is of paramount importance in ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights. We call upon the international community to hold the Sudanese authorities to account for the safety of these human rights defenders.”
Thomas said it was also crucial to strengthen a United Nations mandate to monitor human rights violations in the country.
Rights groups say these cases underscores a wider crackdown on minority Christians in the heavily Islamic nation.
Sudan’s Islamist President Omar Bashir has said he wants to implement Islam more strictly, after the heavily Christian southern region broke away to become South Sudan, the world’s youngest country.
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(BosNewsLife (2004-2014) is the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians. It has been ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since May 2004).
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