Rejecting appeals for clemency by Western human rights activists, a judge in Sudan sentenced a 27-year old pregnant Christian mother to death “for apostasy.”
The woman, Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, brought her punishment of death upon herself, said Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa: “We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam.”
“I sentence you to be hanged to death.” For good measure, Judge Khalifa ordered the woman to be beaten with 100 lashes of the whip before being hung for “adultery.”
Ishag appeared to take the verdict in stride when read her sentence in a Khartoum courtroom. Before sentencing was pronounced, an Islamic religious leader allegedly spoke with Ishag in the caged dock trying again to “talk her out” of her “apostasy.”
According to witnesses, the condemned woman, rose calmly but firmly to proclaim to the judge and to the world: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
After the verdict, about 50 people demonstrated against the decision.
“No to executing Mariam,” said one of their signs, while another proclaimed: “Religious rights are a constitutional right.”
In a speech, one demonstrator said they would continue their activism with sit-ins and protests until she is freed.
“The details of this case expose the regime’s blatant interference in the personal life of Sudanese citizens,” proclaimed a Sudanese youth group called Sudan Change Now Movement in a statement on Wednesday.
Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman, defended the death sentence for leaving Islam. “It’s not only Sudan. In Saudi Arabia, in all the Muslim countries,” he sayd, “It is not allowed at all for a Muslim to change his religion.”