Meriam Yahia Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging this Mother's Day after being arrested by the Sudan government for 'apostasy,' turning away from Islam, and marrying a Christian man. Sudan, which operates under Shari'ah (Islamic) law, is ranked eleventh on Open Doors' list of the most heavily persecuted areas for Christians in the world.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim is a practicing medical doctor and an expecting mother of two at only twenty seven years of age. Because the Sudanese government operates under Islamic law and does not recognize marriages of its citizens to non-Muslims, Ibrahim was charged with adultery after it was discovered that she is married to a South Sudanese Christian man. The Christian Post reports that though she has been a Christian since childhood, the Sudanese government also charged her with apostasy since it considers all natives of the country to be Muslim by birth.
According to Open Doors, many Sudanese Christians fled to South Sudan when the country became independent in 2011. Sudan's government is made up of radical Islamists, which are anti-Christian. "Incidents against Christians include faith-related killings, damaging Christian properties, and forced marriage as well as arrests, deportations, and raids on church offices," their website reads.
Ibrahim was sentenced to death on Mother's Day 2014, and is being held in a federal women's prison in Sudan until after the birth of her second child.
The U.S. Dept. of State has since issued a statement on May 15, 2014:
We are deeply disturbed over the sentencing today of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag to death by hanging for apostasy. We are also deeply concerned by the flogging sentence for adultery. We understand that the court sentence can be appealed.
We continue to call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, a right which is enshrined in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution as well as international human rights law.
We call on the Sudanese legal authorities to approach this case with the compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people.