Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Sudan apostasy case: Meriam Ibrahim must be released

Meriam Ibrahim
Meriam Ibrahim
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

The case of 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim has touched the world.

Meriam was eight months pregnant when she appeared before a court in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, last month on charges of apostasy and adultery.

When she refused to renounce her Christian faith, judges sentenced Meriam to death by hanging and to 100 lashes for being married to a Christian man.

Almost a million people have now backed Amnesty International's campaign to have her freed.

It's clear that international pressure on the Sudanese Government is working.

The authorities in Khartoum are rattled. So much so that an official from Sudan's foreign ministry told the BBC that Sudan plans to release Meriam.

This would be incredible news if it were true, but, sadly, that now seems unlikely.

We agree with Meriam's lawyer, Elshareef Ali Mohammed, who has told us: "We will not believe that she is being freed until she walks out of the prison.

"If (Sudan's authorities) were to release her, the announcement would come from the appeal court, not from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

The simple fact is Meriam has committed no crime. She is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately.

Meriam has been shackled by heavy chains around her ankles since her death sentence ruling. Her lawyers say she remained chained even while in labour. Last Tuesday Meriam gave birth to a baby girl, Maya, with her legs still shackled.

She remains jailed with her newborn baby and Martin, her 20-month-old son, in Omdurman Women's Prison in Khartoum. With Maya and Martin beside her, there are now three innocent people in Meriam's cell.

Amnesty will continue campaigning for Meriam Ibrahim's release until she is freed and her conviction overturned.

Sudan should also repeal inhumane laws that criminalise adultery and apostasy and abolish the death penalty and flogging.

Sign the petition at www.amnesty.org.uk

  • Patrick Corrigan is Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International

Muslims have been standing against apostasy laws for a century 

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