There is a US connection to the case of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who drew a death sentence plus flogging of 100 lashes for the crime in Sudan for being a convert to Christianity. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has begun pushing to get a grant of political asylum from the State Department while her family prays that Sudanese officials will deport her rather than execute her in their adherence to shari’a law:
The Boston Globe has more on the local connection to Meriam’s plight:
The heart-wrenching story of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old pregnant Sudanese woman, is rippling through New Hampshire, the adopted home of her husband, galvanizing activists, neighbors, and politicians to call for her rescue.
Ishag, 27, ran afoul of Islamic shariah law by marrying Daniel Wani, now a US citizen who lives in Manchester, N.H., with his brother, Gabriel. The family’s plight has captivated the small but tight-knit community of Sudanese immigrants here, many of whom fled religious persecution and strife in Sudan.
“The regime in Sudan, they can do whatever they want to do,” said Pastor Monyroor Teng, who heads the Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church in Manchester. “We’re all still wondering, how is she going to survive this?”
Ishag, who is more than eight months pregnant, was shackled at the ankles when her husband saw her in prison, Wani has told media outlets. Other media outlets have described Ishag as a physician.
“Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag’s sentencing is an abhorrent violation of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms,” US Senator Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement. “No one should be treated as a criminal for exercising the right of religious choice.”
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the State Department said the United States is “fully engaged diplomatically in the case,” and had communicated “strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government.” The statement reiterated an earlier US call for Sudan to respect international and Sudanese laws protecting freedom of religion.
Sudan has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to rescind the death sentence and end criminal penalties for “apostasy” from Islam. So far, the Sudanese government isn’t budging, but they are finding themselves with few allies, the Guardian reports (via Lisa Graas):
Sudan is facing mounting condemnation for sentencing a pregnant woman to be whipped and then hanged for adultery and apostasy, and for keeping her shackled in prison with her toddler son a month before she is due to give birth.
Governments, the UN and human rights groups have called on the Sudanese government to immediately release Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, and overturn both her death sentence and sentence of 100 lashes. More than 100,000 people have backed a call by Amnesty International to release Ibrahim. …
Her lawyers have lodged an appeal against the sentence, which may be heard in Khartoum this week. Ibrahim is being held in harsh conditions and is constantly shackled, according to Amnesty. Her 20-month-old son, Martin, has been kept in prison with her since February.
Ibrahim has been told that her execution will be deferred for two years to allow her to deliver and then wean her baby.
Her husband, Daniel Wani, who left Sudan for the US in 1998, has travelled to Khartoum to try to secure the release of his wife and son. He said Ibrahim was being denied medical treatment and he had not been allowed to visit her or Martin, according to media reports.
The Sudanese authorities have reportedly refused to release the child to his father’s care because of his Christian faith.
The two-year extension gives the diplomacy route more time to have an impact, but Meriam still faces threats to her health and that of her children while incarcerated in these conditions. Pray for Meriam, and contact your elected officials to make sure that State is putting maximum pressure on Sudan for her release.