Meriam Ibrahim: Apostasy Sudanese woman sentenced to hang 'may not be freed', her lawyers warn

Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy last month
  • @kashmiragander

Lawyers representing Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy, have cast doubt over whether she will be freed by accusing the government of political posturing.

The treatment of Ibrahim by the Sudanese authorities was internationally condemned in early May, when the then heavily pregnant woman was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce Christianity, and reportedly imprisoned with her 20-month-old son.

Pressure on Sudan to release Ibrahim increased last week, when the 27-year-old was forced to give birth to her daughter while restrained by shackles.

On Saturday, Sudanese officials announced that Ibrahim would be released “in a few days’ time”, the BBC reported Abdullahi Alazreg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, as having said.

But a day later her lawyer Elshareef Ali Mohammed warned: “Nothing has changed.”

“Meriam is still in prison. This was a political statement made under pressure from an international campaign,” he told the Guardian.

Human rights organisations believe it is likely Ibrahim’s case will be fast-tracked due to international pressure. But Elshareef told the newspaper that court officials responded to an appeal against Ibrahim’s convictions with claims that the documents were incomplete.

Although Ibrahim Ibrahim was raised as a Christian by her mother, as Sudanese law states a child must follow their father’s religion, she was convicted of apostasy and adultery for marrying a non-Muslim.

The court in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum annulled her three-year-long marriage, and ordered that Ibrahim be given 100 lashes and hanged.

Ibrahim’s husband Daniel Wani said their son, Martin, has become sullen and withdrawn since being incarcerated with his mother.

He added that his wife was under pressure to convert her religion so she can leave prison but said she was ”committed“ to her right to religious freedom.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister David Cameron David Cameron joined Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Tony Blair in condemning what he called "barbaric" punishment of the 27-year-old.

"The way she is being treated is barbaric and has no place in today's world," he told The Times.

"Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.

"I urge the government of Sudan to overturn the sentence and immediately provide appropriate support and medical care for her and her children.

"The UK will continue to press the government of Sudan to act."

Meanwhile, human rights charity Amnesty International has launched a campaign urging Sudan to "release Meriam immediately and unconditionally", with a similar petition on garnering over 700,000 signatures.