Skip to main content

Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her Christianity gives birth in prison

By Faith Karimi and Mohammed Osman, CNN
updated 11:53 PM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, gave birth in prison
  • Sources: Her husband was not allowed to attend the birth
  • Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy

(CNN) -- A Sudanese woman sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her Christianity gave birth to a baby girl in prison Tuesday, her lawyers said.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, delivered her baby at a women's prison in Khartoum, but her husband was not allowed to be present for the birth, sources told CNN. They asked not to be named for safety reasons.

Supermodel puts spotlight on South Sudan
Could newest country become bloodiest?
Attacks on Nigerian Christians

Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith, about two weeks ago while she was eight months pregnant.

A Sudanese lawyer filed an appeal last week to reverse the verdict by the lower court.

She is in prison with her 20-month-old son, but Sudanese officials have said the toddler is free to leave any time, according to her lawyer, Mohamed Jar Elnabi.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, is a U.S. citizen who uses a wheelchair and "totally depends on her for all details of his life," her lawyer said.

The appeal

The appeals court in Khartoum will issue a ruling on the case in the next week, but it will first ask the lower court to submit the documents it used to make the ruling, according to her lawyer.

Once that's done, it will issue a case number, he said.

"We will continue checking with the appeals court, but Inshallah (Allah willing) ... the appeals court will reverse the sentence and set her free," he said.

Christian or Muslim?

Ibrahim says her father was a Sudanese Muslim and her mother was Ethiopian Orthodox. Her father left when she was 6, and she was raised as a Christian.

The court had warned her to renounce her Christianity by May 15, but she held firm to her beliefs.

Sudanese Parliament speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen said claims that Ibrahim was raised as non-Muslim are untrue.

She was raised in an Islamic environment, and her brother, a Muslim, filed the complaint against her, according to Al-Deen.

The complaint alleges that she went missing for several years, and her family was shocked to find out she married a Christian, according to her lawyer.

However, because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her one too, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

Attempts to contact Sudan's justice minister and foreign affairs minister for comment were unsuccessful.

South Sudan on edge
Hundreds killed in South Sudan massacre
Daniel Wani and his son Martin.
Daniel Wani and his son Martin.

100 lashes

In addition to the death sentence, the court convicted Ibrahim of adultery and sentenced her to 100 lashes.

The Parliament speaker has said the verdict is not final and will go through all the judicial stages to reach the constitutional court.

Worldwide condemnation

Rights groups and foreign embassies worldwide condemned the verdict.

"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," said Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher.

Katherine Perks with the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said the verdict goes against Sudan's "own constitution and commitments made under regional and international law."

Foreign embassies in Khartoum, including those of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, urged the government to reverse course.

In past cases involving pregnant or nursing women, the Sudanese government waited until the mother weaned her child before executing any sentence, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide spokeswoman Kiri Kankhwende.

Opinion: Why marrying for love should never mean death

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 12:38 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
updated 12:29 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
updated 7:39 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT