Jun 24, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag set free from prison in Sudan

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag set free from prison in Sudan. A Sudanese woman who gave birth in prison after being sentenced to death for converting to Christianity, has been set free.

The case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag sparked an outcry from Western governments and rights groups after a judge sentenced her to hang on May 15.

The young 27-year-old physician, was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and makes conversions of faith punishable by death.

“Meriam was released just about an hour ago,” Mohanad Mustafa told AFP.

“She’s now out of prison,” he said, but authorities will not issue the reasons for her release yet.

Born to a Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, she married Daniel Wani.

Wani was pronounced innocent but their marriage was revoked and his wife was sentenced to 100 lashes as the court considered his wife a Muslim.

She was subsequently sentenced to death after being found guilty of apostasy (publicly renouncing Islam) when she told the court she was a Christian and refused to “return” to the Muslim religion.

“I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim,” she said in court.

Twelve days after the verdict, Ishag gave birth to a daughter at the women’s prison in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

Wani, who is in a wheelchair, was allowed to visit his wife and son before the birth.

Meriam reportedly told him before the birth that she would rather die than give up her Christianity.

“If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I’m not going to change my faith,” she told him.

Before she was released, Ishag was supposed to be executed after she nursed the baby for two years while in prison.

European Union leaders called for revocation of the “inhumane verdict,” while US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Khartoum to repeal its laws banning Muslims from converting.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the way she had been treated was “barbaric and has no place in today’s world”.

Mustafa and four other human rights lawyers handling her case for free had appealed the verdict but word of her release was unexpected.

Mustafa had said he still had no idea when the appeal court might render a verdict.

“It’s great,” a church source said of her release, after last week expressing optimism that she would be freed because of international pressure on Sudan.