Husband of Condemned Pregnant Sudanese Christian Prays for Her Deliverance

( [email protected] ) May 16, 2014 05:36 PM EDT
A Sudanese Tragedy
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim pictured with her husband, Daniel Wani, on their wedding day (Photo : Global Justice Center in Sudan)

The husband of a pregnant Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to hang for apostasy has said he is very concerned for his wife, but determined not to give up his faith.

"I'm so frustrated. I don't know what to do. I'm just praying," Daniel Wani told CNN.

Wani, who is wheelchair bound, was banned from entering the courtroom on Thursday, according to lawyer Mohamed Jar Elnabi. According to Elnabi, Wani cares deeply for his wife and "totally depends on her for all details of his life. He cannot live without her."

A Khartoum court convicted Meriam Yehya Ibrahim on Thursday after she refused to deny her faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian woman is eight months pregnant and is currently behind bars with her 20-month-old son.

"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death," the judge told the woman, according to AFP.

"I am a Christian," Ibrahim is said to have replied, "and I will remain a Christian."

Related: Sudan Sentences Pregnant Christian Woman to 100 Lashing and Death for 'Apostasy' 

According to the Sudan Tribune, a Khartoum court sentenced 27-year-old Ibrahim at the beginning of the month to death by hanging and 100 lashes after convicting her on charges of apostasy and adultery.

"Under Sudan's Islamic Shari'a law, a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim man, thus any such marriage is considered adulterous. The court later added the charge of apostasy when Ibrahim, who was raised an Orthodox Christian, asserted that she was not a Muslim," the Tribune said, adding that she "was born in Gedarif state, and raised solely by her Christian Ethiopian Orthodox mother as her Muslim Sudanese father was entirely absent from her upbringing.

"She is very strong and very firm. She is very clear that she is a Christian and that she will get out one day," her lawyer Mohamed Jar Elnabi told the broadcaster.

"[Their son] is very affected from being trapped inside a prison from such a young age. He is always getting sick due to lack of hygiene and bugs."

Elnabi says he had received death threats for representing Ibrahim. "Since yesterday, I live in fear if I just hear a door open or a strange sound in the street.

"I could never leave the case. This is a matter of belief and principles. I must help someone who is in need, even if it will cost me my life."

"The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered," Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, said in a statement.

"'Adultery' and 'apostasy' are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of 'most serious crimes' in relation to the death penalty. It is a flagrant breach of international human rights law."

The Obama administration and the state department issued a statement saying that it will "urge the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief, including one's right to follow the religion or belief of their choice, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution."

However, the US government is being heavily criticized for appearing to have made little attempt to actually come to Ibrahim's aid.

"What is needed immediately is for pressure on the Obama Administration, particularly the State Department, and on the U.S. Congress, to respect not only Ibrahim's right to freedom of religion, but to respect the rights of Wani and his son, and the coming baby, American citizens all," wrote a reporter for the FrontPage  "The U.S. government must act now to reunite Ibrahim and her son with Wani and to bring the family back to the United States."