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 10:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 5:51 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT