An Islamic judged ruled that Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag should be beaten with 100 lashes and hanged for marring a Christian man and converting from Muslim.
Ishag, 27, who is in her final trimester of pregnancy, was given three days by the Sudanese courts to denounce Christianity and return to Islam, but the mother refused. As a result, the judge formally ruled her guilty of apostasy, or a desertion of her religion. And since Ishag married a Christian man, the judged ruled their union unrecognizable under Islamic law, making her guilty of adultery. For that crime, the court sentenced the wife and mother to be flogged.
Many embassies in Sudan, including the United States’, issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” about the case and Amnesty International called the woman’s sentence “appalling and abhorrent.”
Her lawyers say Ishag’s case was initiated after her brother filed a complaint against her, alleging she had gone missing for years and her family was shocked to find out she had married a Christian man when they found her.
The White House says, “We strongly condemn this sentence and urge the Government of Sudan to meet its obligations under international human rights law. We call on the Government of Sudan to respect Ms. Ishag’s right to freedom of religion, a universal human right enshrined in Sudan’s own 2005 Constitution…”
The judge did rule that her sentencing be carried out after she gives birth and has weaned her child. She has one other child, a 20-month-old son. Her case is the first of its kind in Sudan.
In the meantime, Ishag’s lawyers say they plan to appeal her case. Earlier in her hearing, a clerk spoke to a clerk from a caged dock saying, “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
It is reported that Ishag was raised Orthodox Christian by her mother, because her father, a Muslim, was absent during her childhood. In Sudan, children are to be raised the religion of their father. Thus when she married her husband, Daniel Wani, a Christian man who is wheelchair stricken.
In a CNN interview Wani expressed his helplessness saying, “I’m so frustrated, I do not know what to do.” He continues, “I’m just praying.”
Several small groups of protestors stood outside the court—some on the side of the defendant and some supporting the courts. Controversy surrounding this sensational case and its extreme sentencing has peaked international awareness and interest.
Ishag remains in prison, her son is with her and is said to be continuously ill due to a lack of hygiene and bugs.