An eight-months pregnant woman is being kept shackled to the wall of her cell as she awaits hanging, her husband has said after visiting her in prison.
Meriam Ibrahim, 26, was sentenced to death in Sudan on Thursday for refusing to recant her Christianity and for marrying Christian Daniel Wani – a Sudanese man with US citizenship who lives in New Hampshire
The court found her guilty of apostasy – leaving Islam – even though Miss Ibrahim testified that she was never a Muslim, and was brought up as a Christian by her Ethiopia-born mother.
The case was drawn to the authorities’ attention in August, when Miss Ibrahim’s father’s family said that she had been born a Muslim and renounced Islam. Fatih Izz Al-Deen, Sudanese parliament speaker, said Miss Ibrahim’s brother had denounced her.
“I was never a Muslim,” she told the court. “I was raised a Christian from the start.”
Her Muslim father, she said, left the family when she was a child.
Miss Ibrahim’s husband, American citizen Daniel Wani, is disabled and was in the United States at the time of the verdict.
“I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I’m just praying.”
He uses a wheelchair and “totally depends on her for all details of his life,” said Jar Elnabi, her lawyer.
On travelling to Khartoum, he was only allowed to visit her on Monday.
“He originally was not allowed to see her until this week,” said Tina Ramirez, executive director of Hardwired, a US-based advocacy group against religious persecution. She told FoxNews.com: “Once he was able to, she was shackled and her legs were swollen.”
Mr Wani, who is also a Christian, married Miss Ibrahim in 2011, and the couple run several businesses, including a farm south of Khartoum.
Miss Ibrahim’s sentence will not be carried out until after their baby is born. But in prison with her is the couple’s 20-month-old child, Martin.
Britain has described the sentence as “barbaric”.
Mark Simmonds, Minister for Africa, said: “I am truly appalled that a Sudanese court has sentenced Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag to death for apostasy. This barbaric sentence highlights the stark divide between the practices of the Sudanese courts and the country’s international human rights obligations.”
The Chargé d’Affaires at the Sudanese embassy in the UK, Bukhari Afandi, was summoned to the Foreign Office last week to meet Simon Gass, the Foreign Office’s political director. The FCO said Mr Gass “expressed deep concern at the recent decision to sentence Meriam to death” and asked the Chargé to urge his government “to uphold its international obligations on freedom of religion or belief, and to do all it can to get this decision overturned.”
An online petition to call for the sentence to be commuted has been signed by 122,000 people so far.
Mr Al-Deen, the speaker, said the verdict is not final and is in the hands of the judiciary.