American Baptist leader condemns death sentence for Sudanese woman

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag reportedly refused to recant her Christian faith, despite the ruling of a court in Sudan.

By Robert Dilday

An American Baptist leader has spoken out against a death sentence imposed May 16 on a Sudanese woman who news reports say refused to recant her Christian faith in front of a court which considers her to be Muslim.

Medley“American Baptists condemn the sentencing of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag to death for apostasy as a violation of the fundamental human right to religious liberty,” said American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary A. Roy Medley in a press release. “We call upon the international community to voice their opposition to such a heinous act. We continue to be deeply concerned for the Christian community here and elsewhere where they are a minority faith and subject to acts of violence and discrimination, even as we have voiced our condemnation of the oppression of the Rohingya in Burma.”

The Rohingya are a Burmese ethnic group which practices Islam and which the United Nations says is persecuted by the Buddhist-majority government in Burma.

CNN reports that a Khartoum court not only sentenced Ishag, who is said to be pregnant, to death, but also convicted her of adultery with a penalty of 100 lashes because her marriage to a Christian man is considered void under Sharia law.

“We pray for our sister in Christ, that angels might minister to her and grant her strength even as we pray for her release,” said Medley.

After the sentencing of his wife, Ishag’s husband said he feels helpless. “I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do,” Daniel Wani told CNN. “I’m just praying.”

In a statement May 16, U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said, “We strongly condemn this sentence and urge the government of Sudan to meet its obligations under international human rights law. We call on the government of Sudan to respect Ms. Ishag’s right to freedom of religion, a universal human right enshrined in Sudan’s own 2005 constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”