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Thursday 2 October 2014

Freed Christian woman held in Sudan

Published 24/06/2014 | 15:12

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Meriam Ibrahim was held with her husband and two children at the international airport in Khartoum, the country's capital, according to lawyer Eman Abdul-Rahim (AP)

A lawyer for a Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death and later freed says the woman and her family have been detained at an airport while trying to leave the country.

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Meriam Ibrahim was held with her husband and two children at the international airport in Khartoum, the country's capital, according to lawyer Eman Abdul-Rahim.

The Court of Cassation in Khartoum yesterday cancelled the death sentence against 27-year-old Ms Ibrahim after defence lawyers presented their case. The court then ordered her release.

Ms Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian man in a church ceremony in 2011.

Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, although Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father's religion.

Sudanese media reported that Ms Ibrahim gave birth in prison in May.

Sudan's penal code criminalises the conversion of Muslims to other religions, and it is punishable by death.

The original death sentence drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it "abhorrent".

The US State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.

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 the non-Muslim south has 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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