Meriam Ibrahim: Sudanese woman sentenced to hang will be freed ‘in a few days’

Meriam Ibrahim had refused to renounce her faith

A mother facing the death penalty in Sudan for abandoning her religious faith was said last night to be on the verge of being freed.

The case of Meriam Ibrahim sparked international condemnation from world leaders earlier this month after a Sudanese court ruled the then heavily pregnant woman would face the death penalty for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. The court ruled she was to be given 100 lashes and then hanged after she had given birth.

Last night, the BBC reported that a Sudanese foreign ministry official had said Ms Ibrahim, a doctor, who gave birth to a girl while in prison earlier this week, will be freed from custody “in a few days’ time”, according to Abdullahi Alazreg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry. Mr Alazreg reportedly said that Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman.

Ms Ibrahim, 27, was brought up as an Orthodox Christian by her mother and married a Christian, but the court ruled she should be regarded as Muslim because it had been her father’s faith – a charged she denied. “I am a Christian. I did not convert from Islam,” she told the Haj Yousif court in Khartoum. In refusing to renounce her faith, her Christian marriage in 2011 was annulled and she was sentenced to death for apostasy. Sex outside a “lawful relationship” is also regarded as adultery under Sudanese law.

Speaking from jail after she was sentenced, she said, according to her lawyer : “I don’t want anything. I just want to be outside this prison. I want to be free.”

Daniel Wani, a US citizen originally from South Sudan, carrying his newborn daughter Maya at the womens prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman Daniel Wani, a US citizen originally from South Sudan, carrying his newborn daughter Maya at the womens prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman Her case caused an international outcry and the Sudanese government came under increasing pressure to release the woman. David Cameron said last week: “The way she is being treated is barbaric and has no place in today’s world. 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 Foreign Office had called in the Sudanese chargé d’affaires to ask for Ms Ibrahim’s release on humanitarian grounds. Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg both said the case appalled them, while the Ukip leader Nigel Farage called on the Government to cut aid to Sudan; last year this amounted to £42m.

Amnesty International launched a petition which, as of yesterday, had collected more than 200,000 signatures, heaping pressure on Khartoum to release Ms Ibrahim.

US embassy officials had attended Ms Ibrahim’s public hearings and monitored the appeals process in Khartoum. Her husband, Daniel Wani, an American citizen and biochemist who suffers from muscular dystrophy, said that his wife gave birth to a girl whom they had named Maya in the early hours of Tuesday morning in Omdurman women’s prison. It was reported that Ms Ibrahim was shackled as she gave birth.

The couple also have a 20-month-old baby together, Martin, who is also said to be in prison with his mother.

She was first arrested in August last year. One of her relatives had claimed that Ms Ibrahim was committing “adultery” for marrying outside of Islam, and reported her to the authorities.

Sudan’s criminal code states that a pregnant woman sentenced to death must give birth and nurse her child for two years before her execution can go ahead. Liberal and conservative scholars gave different opinions over whether – and how – the act of abandoning the Islamic faith should be punished.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population and Islamic law has been in force there since the 1980s.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said yesterday: “We are aware of and urgently seeking clarification from the Sudanese authorities of reports that Meriam Ibrahim is to be freed. We have been strongly urging the government of the republic of Sudan to do all it can to overturn its decision to sentence her to death.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones