Christian mom detained in Sudan, released again

Mariam Ibrahim was sentenced to death in Sudan, then released, but detained again Tuesday as she attempted to fly from Sudan to the US. On Thursday, a lawyer confirmed Ibrahim had been released from police custody.

By , Associated Press

A Sudanese Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was overturned has been freed again Thursday after being detained on accusations of forging travel documents.

Eman Abdul-Rahman, the lawyer for 27-year-old Mariam Ibrahim, told The Associated Press that she was released on Thursday from a police station after foreign diplomats pressed the government to free her. She was detained Tuesday at Khartoum's airport while trying to leave the country with her family.

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters in Washington that the Sudanese government had informed American officials at the embassy in Khartoum that Ibrahim and her family were "temporarily detained" over issues relating their travel documents.

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CNN reported that Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services said that she had South Sudanese travel documents, despite not being a citizen of South Sudan, and she was heading to the United States, which is not her native country.

"This was considered illegal by the Sudanese authorities, who have summoned both the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors," the agency said in a message posted on its media Facebook page early Wednesday.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian. Sudan's penal code forbids Muslims from converting to other religions, a crime punishable by death.

Ibrahim married a Christian man from southern Sudan in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father's religion.

The sentence drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it "abhorrent." The U.S. State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.

On Monday, Sudan's Court of Cassation threw out Ibrahim's death sentence and freed her after a presentation by her legal team.

Sudan introduced Islamic Shariah law in the early 1980s under the rule of autocrat Jaafar Nimeiri, contributing to the resumption of an insurgency in the mostly animist and Christian south of Sudan. The south seceded in 2011 to become the world's newest nation, South Sudan.

Sudanese President Omar Bashir, an Islamist who seized power in a 1989 military coup, has said his country will implement Islam more strictly now that the non-Muslim south is gone.

A number of Sudanese have been convicted of apostasy in recent years, but they all escaped execution by recanting their new faith.

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Associated Press writer Matt Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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