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?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Communications Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 6-month part-time contract (24 hours a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific