Source: Timeslive
Meriam Ibrahim, 27, has been in prison in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, since January on charges of abandoning Islam and of adultery. The sharia court refused to recognise her Christian marriage.

On May 15 a judge ruled that she should be hanged, even though the mother-of-two testified that she had been raised a Christian and therefore had not "left" Islam.

"Sudan has ratified the African Charter on human rights," said Elshareef Ali Mohammed, a lawyer representing Ibrahim and her husband, Daniel Wani. "The charter states that apostasy is not a crime - so Sudan should never have prosecuted this case."

Elshareef and his colleagues said they hadappealed to the court in Khartoum but it claimed yesterday that it had not received their paperwork.

The renewed attempts to secure Ibrahim's freedom followed a weekend of bizarre and conflictingreports about her case.

On Saturday, a Foreign Ministry official told the BBC in London that Ibrahim would be released "within days".

Elshareef pointed out that only an appeal court could free her, not the Foreign Ministry.

The next day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abu Bakr al-Sideeg said: "I am not aware that any release is imminent."

Now the legal team is hoping that the African Commission on Human Rights will pressure President Omar al-Bashir into intervening and overturning the sentence.

The commission states that it has been set up to "ensure protection of human and people's rights" through what it terms the "friendly settlement of disputes".

Don't blame Islam, blame backward men

From Sudan to Pakistan, Islamic law is being abused. To the impious and hypocritical it is another tool with which to keep women in their place or foreigners in line.

That is what happened to Meriam Ibrahim. A half-brother apparently furious that she had gone her own way, choosing her own husband and planning to emigrate to the US, cried "apostasy". Her fate was sealed not because she was a Christian but because she was a woman in a culture where women have little value beyond being a wife. Religion is not the cause but rather the means with which to maintain a backward way of life.

Inevitably, there have been calls for sanctions, but such arguments overlook the fact that countries like Sudan and Pakistan are struggling to keep hardliners from power. The answer lies in deeper engagement, not less, backing aid efforts that seek to reform the police and justice systems, while putting women's rights at the centre of everything.

Go to top