Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy gives birth

The Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to hang for refusing to renounce Christianity has given birth to a baby girl named Maya, her lawyers told The Telegraph.

Meriam Ibrahim, 27, gave birth to the girl – her second child – in the early hours of Tuesday morning, in the hospital wing of the prison.

"They didn't even take Meriam to a hospital - she just delivered inside a prison clinic," As Elshareef Ali Elshareef Mohammed, her lawyer, told The Telegraph.

"But neither her husband nor I have been allowed to see them yet."

Mr Elshareef said he and Daniel Wani, Ms Ibrahim's husband, were still waiting outside the prison at 2pm in Khartoum (12.00 in the UK).

Her son, 20-month-old Martin, has been with her inside the cell since she was first charged in February. Ms Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, who is in a wheelchair, said last week that she was being kept shackled by the ankles in her cell.

She was sentenced to death on May 15 by a court in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Ms Ibrahim denied the charges of apostasy and adultery - the court did not recognise her 2011 marriage to Mr Wani, a Christian - because she said her Muslim father abandoned the family, and she was raised a Christian.

She is to be allowed to nurse her child for two years before the sentence is carried out.

A petition to quash Ms Ibrahim’s sentence, organised by Amnesty International, has been signed by 660,000 people so far – but the rights group has been barred from Sudan since 2005.

“Apostasy and adultery should not even be crimes,” Manar Idriss, Sudan researcher at Amnesty, told The Telegraph. “It’s a personal choice who to marry and what to believe.

“The human rights situation has been deteriorating for the past few years. It’s an extremely repressive regime, with opposition activists tortured, and the targeting of anyone who dares to defy the regime.”

On Thursday her lawyers filed an appeal at the Appeal Court of Bahri and Sharq Al Nil. If the appeal is unsuccessful, they are planning to explore further avenues, and take the case to Sudan’s Supreme Court and Constitutional Court.

The crime of apostasy – for which Ms Ibrahim has been sentenced to death – is defined as the renouncing of your religion.

Some divisions of Christianity – among them Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Baptists – believe apostasy is a sin. But it is mainly seen as an Islamic crime, based on a Hadith – saying - from Prophet Muhammad who said, “Whoever changes his religion kill him.” But many scholars point out that numerous verses in the Koran guarantee freedom of belief.

Nina Shea, director of the Centre for Religious Freedom at New York’s Hudson Institute, said that apostasy from Islam is criminalised in many, though not all, Muslim-majority states. Turkey does not criminalise it, but Iran and Saudi Arabia do imprison converts. Actual executions by governments for conversion are virtually unheard of today.

“In the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the government of Sudan is adopting the practice of Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabab, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” she told The Telegraph. “All of those groups do put Christian converts to death.”