Saturday 16 December 2017

Husband finds pregnant wife shackled as she awaits hanging

Mariam Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to death in Sudan, and her husband Daniel Wani. Global Justice Centre Sudan
Mariam Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to death in Sudan, and her husband Daniel Wani. Global Justice Centre Sudan

Harriet Alexander

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.

Mariam Ibrahim (26) was sentenced to death in Sudan last 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 Ms 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 Ms Ibrahim's father's family said that she had been born a Muslim and renounced Islam. Fatih Izz Al-Deen, Sudanese parliament speaker, said Ms 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.

Ms Ibrahim's husband, American citizen Daniel Wani, is disabled and was in the US 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 "Once he was able to, she was shackled and her legs were swollen."

Mr Wani married Ms Ibrahim in 2011, and the couple run several businesses, including a farm south of Khartoum.

Ms Ibrahim's sentence will not be carried out until after their baby is born.

But in prison with her is the couple's 18-month-old child, Martin.

Britain has described the sentence as "barbaric".

Mark Simmonds, Africa minister, said: "I am truly appalled that a Sudanese court has sentenced Mariam 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 Charge 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 Charge d'Affaires 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. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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