Daniel Wani, the husband of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, tells CNN that praying “is all I can do” while he awaits the execution of his wife. Ibrahim, who is currently imprisoned with the couple’s 20-month-old son, was sentenced to hanging for “apostasy” after refusing to convert to Islam.
In an interview with CNN, Wani spoke sparingly, clearly in pain at having to discuss the death of his wife. “I’m frustrated, I don’t know what to do,” he said, explaining that her trial was “not like a legal trial” because it was run by “Islamic fundamentalists.” He could not speak to whether he believed his wife would convert to Islam before the court scheduled her execution or whether an appeal could be successful: “I don’t know what is going to happen.”
On the issue of apostasy, Wani explained with more detail why the Sudanese court has charged his wife with that crime. The court claims that Ibrahim abandoned Islam for Christianity, thus committing the crime of apostasy, and has engaged in a long-term relationship outside the bounds of Islamic marriage, thus charging her with adultery, for which she is sentenced to pay with 100 lashes. As she is in the late stages of a pregnancy, the court will stay the execution for two years, enough time to wean the child.
“Her mother raised her because they divorced some time ago; she [doesn’t] know her father,” Wani explained. Ibrahim’s father was Muslim, but her mother is Christian, and Ibrahim was raised and has always considered herself to be a Christian. While she has never considered herself a Muslim, her father’s faith made her legally Muslim in Sudan, thus prompting this sentence.
Wani also explained that she did change religions once in her life: “She is a Catholic – she used to be Orthodox but she changed to Catholic[ism] before the marriage.”
Wani expressed his helplessness at watching the events unfold by noting that he was “just praying – that is the only thing, I don’t have something to do.”
CNN explains that Wani was barred from being in the courtroom with his wife Thursday when the judge handed down the sentence and that his ability to function would be severely impaired by being apart from her. According to Ibrahim’s lawyer, Mohamed Jar Elnabi, Wani is confined to a wheelchair and “totally depends on her for all details of his life.” Wani also told CNN that their young son, Martin, is “always getting sick due to lack of hygiene and bugs” in prison. Elnabi is in charge of organizing the appeal to save Ibrahim, and her case has received backing from groups like Amnesty International.
Watch the interview with Ibrahim’s husband, Wani, on CNN below: