Apostasy woman in Sudan: Meriam Ibrahim's death sentence condemned by David Cameron

The Prime Minister has vowed to press the Sudanese government to act

Heather Saul
Saturday 31 May 2014 09:18
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

David Cameron is urging the Sudanese government to reverse the "barbaric" death sentence handed to Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who was convicted for apostasy after she married a Christian man and refused to renounce her faith.

The Prime Minister joined Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in condemning the treatment of Ms Ibrahim, who gave birth to her baby daughter Maya this week while shackled in heavy chains in the hospital wing of Omdurman Women’s Prison.

Mr Cameron said he was "absolutely appalled" when he heard about the plight of the 27-year-old doctor, whose father was Muslim but was raised as an Orthodox Christian by her mother. She refused to renounce her Christianity and was sentenced to death by a Sudanese judge when she was eight months pregnant.

Her Christian marriage has been annulled and Ms Ibrahim was sentenced to an additional 100 lashes for adultery because her marriage is deemed illegitimate under Islamic law.

"The way she is being treated is barbaric and has no place in today's world," Mr Cameron 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."

The former PM Mr Blair meanwhile described the case as a "brutal and sickening distortion of faith".

Sudan has been facing mounting calls for Ms Ibrahim’s release. On Thursday, the US State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms following the news of Ms Ibrahim's birth, while Hillary Clinton described her sentence as "abhorrent".

Meriam Ibrahim with her husband Daniel Wani. Miriam has been sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for apostasy

Ms Ibrahim married Daniel Wani, an American citizen and biochemist suffering from muscular dystrophy, in 2011. The couple have a 20-month-old baby together, Martin, who is also in prison with his mother.

Mr Wani said on Friday he hoped the growing international pressure would force the Sudanese authorities to reconsider her sentence.

Amnesty International are currently heading a campaign demanding her immediate release and her execution, which is expected to take place in two years, be halted. A Change.org petition has also garnered over 600,000 signatures.

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. Lawyers acting for Ms Ibrahim have appealed against her sentence.

Amnesty said: "Meriam has committed no crime. She is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments