Sudan frees woman on death row for apostasy

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm •  Published: June 23, 2014
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KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy was freed Monday by a Khartoum court, and has rejoined her Christian husband with their two young children, her lawyer and state media said.

State news agency SUNA said the Court of Cassation threw out the death sentence against 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim after defense lawyers presented their case. Her lawyer, Eman Abdul-Rahim, told The Associated Press that Ibrahim left prison and was with her husband. Her 18-month-old son, Martin, had been with her in jail, where she gave birth last month to a second child.

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, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who had met with the Sudanese Ambassador to discuss Ibrahim's case, described the release as "a huge first step."