May 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Council of Churches (SCC) denounced the death penalty against a Christian woman accused of apostasy, describing it as a “clear and direct persecution of Christians in Sudan”.
The SCC, in a statement issued last week and signed by several churches including Roman Catholic Church in Sudan, Episcopal church of the Sudan, and the Coptic Church, demanded cancellation of the court’s decision and securing her immediate release.
It noted the court’s decision violates articles (31) and (38) of the 2005 interim constitution, and underscored that Sudan is a signatory to the international bill of human rights which calls for the freedom of belief.
The statement praised the Christian woman’s adherence to her moral and religious stance, denouncing the court’s decision which contradicts with the constitution and international conventions.
It also called upon all social components to strengthen peace foundations of and religious coexistence, underscoring the need to renounce all acts threatening cohesion of the social fabric and the dialogue initiative launched by president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
The SCC further demanded reviewing all laws which detracts from Christian’s rights in Sudan in order to comply with the constitution and the international human rights conventions.
The Christian body also denied statements published by Almeghar daily newspaper on May 21 quoting a senior source at the SCC as saying the accused woman “is not registered at any Sudanese church”.
It emphasised the Christian faith does not oblige its followers to register with any denomination because faith is a pure relation between the believer and his lord.
The SCC described those statements as “totally groundless”, saying it has not delegated any of its members to make press statements to any newspaper or other media outlets.
On May 15, a Khartoum court sentenced 27-year-old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim to death by hanging for apostasy after she refused to recant her faith and revert to Islam.
The court convicted Ibrahim, who is in custody with her 20-month-old son and eight months pregnant with her second child, of the charges on May 11th and gave her three days to return to Islam.
The judge also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery as under Sudan’s Islamic Shar’ia law her marriage to a non-Muslim is considered invalid and therefore an adulterous relationship.
Ibrahim, who was raised in Eastern Sudan’s Gedarif state, was born to an Ethiopian Christian mother and a Sudanese Muslim father, who was largely absent from her childhood. She was arrested in 2013 after a relative reported her to authorities for adultery, with an additional charge of apostasy, brought against her in February after she asserted that she was not a Muslim.
The sentence has sparked international condemnation, with United State senators urging secretary John Kerry to personally intervene on Ibrahim’s behalf and offer her political asylum.
The UK government has labelled the sentence “barbaric”, while United Nations human rights experts described the conviction as “outrageous”, saying the right to marry and start a family was a fundamental human right.