An eight-month pregnant Sudanese woman was sentenced to death on Thursday, after she was convicted of “apostasy” for marrying a Christian man, according to judicial officials and human rights campaigners.
The court in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum also ordered that Meriam Ibrahim be given 100 lashes for committing zena — meaning illegitimate sex in Arabic — for having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man.
Muslim women in the conservative country are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father's religion.
As Ibrahim's husband is not Muslim, their three-year-long marriage is not recognised under Sudanese law.
The 26-year-old doctor, whose father was Muslim but was raised as a Christian by her mother, was convicted on Sunday and granted a four day grace period in which to recant her religion, repent and potentially be saved from death.
She was sentenced after that grace period expired, the officials said on a condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Ibrahim, who is eight-months pregnant and in jail with the couple's 18-month-old son, can appeal her death sentence as well as the 100 lashes, according to said Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher.
International rights groups and Western embassies in Khartoum have condemned what they regard to be an extreme punishment.
Amnesty International slammed Ibrahim's conviction and death sentence as “truly abhorrent.”
“The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
“Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all.”
The group also called for Ibrahim's immediate and unconditional release.
Sudan introduced Islamic Sharia laws in the early 1980s, a move that contributed to the resumption of an insurgency in the mostly animist and Christian south of Sudan. An earlier round of civil war lasted 17 years and ended in 1972. The south seceded in 2011 to become the world's newest nation, South Sudan.
Sudan's current ruler, Omar Bashir, is an Islamist who seized power in a 1989 coup.
Additional reporting by AP