Meriam Yahia Ibrahim was born in a small town in Sudan and raised by her mother as Christian. Her father was Muslim but left the family when she was just 6 years old. Years later, they moved to the city of Khartoum which is where Meriam would meet Daniel Wani, a translater, who holds dual Sudanese and USA citizenship. It is important to mention he is also a Christian. They would marry and have a son together and now Meriam is due to have another baby.
Their marriage, however, violates Sharia law. Shortly after Meriam was wed, her brother came forth and claimed Meriam is actually a Muslim. It is illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a non- Muslim man (however, a Muslim man can marry a non- Muslim). Meriam disputed this and even showed proof of her marriage certificate which stated she is, in fact, a Christian. This was dismissed as her brother continually protested that she is a Muslim and ran away from the family years ago only to show up recently married to a Christian. The court gave Meriam 4 days to recant but she refused so she was put in jail with her 20 month old son. The punishment for apostasy, which is the denouncement of one’s faith, is death, so she has been condemned to hang 2 years after her baby is born– to allow time for the baby to wean. Since she is a Christian and refusing to recant, Sharia law says the marriage is invalid and therefore she is also committing adultery, for which the punishment is 100 lashings. She is unable to see Daniel, who is wheelchair bound and relies heavily on her assistance and is having a difficult time without her. Their child is unable to be in Daniel’s custody because he is a Christian and the child is considered a Muslim. If Meriam’s execution is upheld, the children will go to the government. They are refusing her access to a private hospital and her child continues to get sick living in such poor conditions. There have been reports of abuse and denial of prenatal care.
International human rights organizations have been calling for her immediate release. “The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered,” said Manar Idriss of Amnesty International. US Congress met asking Senator John Kerry to intervene on her behalf. Those supporting the proposition were from both parties, including Senator Jim Inhofe (R- OK) and Senator Bob Menendez (D- NJ).
I think we have a moral obligation to speak out when we see human rights being violated, internationally or otherwise, and ask for something to be done about it. I hope you will join me and sign this petition asking for the release of Meriam.
UPDATE: Meriam gave birth to her daugher today. They plan to name her Maya.