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Woman on death row gives birth in heavy shackles

By Rebecca Black

A pregnant Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce Christianity has given birth in heavy chains.

Meriam Ibrahim is being held in a squalid prison in Sudan with her other two young children.

She was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy in May. She told a court in Khartoum that she had been brought up as a Christian and refused to renounce her faith.

Even though the 27-year-old was brought up as an Orthodox Christian, the authorities consider her to be a Muslim and her marriage to be illegitimate.

The medical graduate married her husband Daniel Wani, a US citizen, in 2011, but the court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.

Her death sentence has been deferred for two years to allow her to nurse her baby.

Last night Mr Wani said his wife was well when he saw her on Wednesday after she had given birth to a baby girl.

He told the BBC that he is hopeful an appeal against the sentence for apostasy will be successful.

"It's very incredible. I'm so happy," he told the BBC's Newsday programme.

But he said he was most concerned about his 20-month-old son who has been living with his mother in prison since February.

The judge ruled that Mr Wani was not allowed custody of the boy as the marriage was not valid.

"His attitude has changed a lot," Mr Wani said of his son.

"He used to be a happy boy. When I went there, he just looked at me. No smile," he said.

"Sometimes really he is in a bad mood. Every time when I went there, he just wants to come home with me."

Mr Wani, who is in a wheelchair, said he was angry about his wife's imprisonment.

She had to give birth with heavy chains on her legs, although when he saw her in the office of the prison, her shackles were removed, he said.

He said it was his wife's right to choose her own religion.

"She grew up... with her mother, went to the church and I don't think that means that she converted from Islam to Christianity," he said.

According to their lawyer, Mr Wani and his wife were first arrested in September 2013 for adultery – and were allowed out on bail.

The court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when Ms Ibrahim said she was a Christian. She was then taken into custody.

There has been international condemnation of the death sentence.

Usman Khan, a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and a commentator on Islam said:

''The Prime Minister's comments on the plight of Mrs Ibrahim reflect the views of the vast majority of Muslims around the world.

"The plight of Mrs Ibrahim is clearly a betrayal of the Qur'an (5:55) and example of the Prophet Muhammad, the ''alleged'' sources of Sudanese law, which both promote religious freedom.

"It's now important that we do all we can to ensure that Mrs. Ibrahim and her children are released and allowed get on with their lives.''

Background

There was outrage across the world when a heavily pregnant Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes and death earlier this year.

She was convicted of adultery and apostasy earlier this month in Khartoum.

Apostasy is the renunciation of a religion.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population. Islamic law has been in force there since the 1980s.

Muslims have been standing against apostasy laws for a century 

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