Friday, May 23, 2014

Christian woman under death sentence for apostasy

South Sudan became Africa's newest nation when it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. It followed years of civil war, in which something like two million lost their lives and more than four million were displaced. Sudan is predominantly Muslim; many in South Sudan are Christians.

The young state fell into crisis in December, 2013 in a power struggle between the president and his former deputy. The conflict has killed thousands and caused more than 800,000 to flee.

Fighting has hindered agriculture and oil production; UN officials say four million will be faced with starvation by the end of the year. Almost two billion American dollars were needed in aid.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Christian woman, has been sentenced to death in Sudan for apostasy. She was brought up a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother - but her father, who left when she was a child, was a Muslim, so the court considered her a Muslim too.

Mrs Ibrahim is married to a Christian, so the court sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery on the basis of her sexual relationship with her husband. It is understood sentence will not be carried out - she is eight months pregnant - until the child is born and weaned.

Before sentence was passed, Mrs Ibrahim was given three days to recant. She refused to do so. "I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian," she said.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, a US citizen, is disabled and uses a wheelchair. He visited his wife in prison and found her shackled to the wall.

"I don't know what to do," he said. "I'm just praying."

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