(Photo: CNN video screencap)
The Republic of Sudan must not be allowed to get away with sentencing a pregnant Christian woman to 100 lashes and death because of a strict Islamic law, persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern has said. It has also started a social media campaign for her freedom and is asking people to join.
"When we first heard this story, we did not want Sudan to feel like they could go through with this case without the world knowing, without the world watching. When people aren't watching and don't take notice, that's when human rights abuses are going to take place," William Stark, ICC Regional Manager for Africa, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Friday.
The case concerns a pregnant Sudanese woman, 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim, who has been accused by Sudan's Public Order Criminal Code of adultery and apostasy for marrying her Christian husband, who she already has one child with. Under the Islamic regime of President Omar al-Bashir, who has stated that he wants a "purely Islamic society," Ibrahim is still considered a Muslim because she was born as one, despite being raised as an Orthodox Christian and marrying Daniel Wani, who ICC said is an American citizen.
ICC has started a social media campaign #ForMeriam calling on people to call and write letters to Sudan's embassies around the world demanding the pregnant mother's release, with the hopes that the effort will also spark the attention of the U.S. Government.
"What we really want as a result from the letter-writing campaign, from the calls, the emails, is we want high-level talks to be taking place about this case. If we sit back and think about what's going on here, Daniel Wani, the husband – he is a U.S. citizen. His children – the toddler is in prison, and the one that's going to be born is in prison – that means we have two United States citizens, who are children inside a Sudanese prison right now," Stark told CP.
"For the U.S. Government, that is something that needs to be talked [about] at the highest level."
He said people need to get involved and let Sudan know that "whatever you do on the intentional level, you are going to have to pay for that."
Stark explained that Sudan is going by a strict interpenetration of the Islamic law, following al-Bashir's vision of an "all Islamic society."
"Unfortunately for Meriam, it's being interpreted in such a way that one – does not recognize her marriage [with] her husband, and thus makes her guilty of adultery, and then two – does not recognize that she chose her faith freely, making her an apostate," he said.
"This is just kind of a progression that has been coming since the separation, that's just going to get worse from here on out."
Stark refers to the separation between the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan in 2011, which has allowed many Christians to flee to the newly formed country in hopes of escaping persecution.
Minority religions have been subject to stricter rules in the Republic of Sudan ever since, however, with reports that the governing authorities are applying Sharia law to non-Muslims, who are supposed to be exempt.
The ICC regional manager brought up the example of Christian women being arrested for not wearing hijabs, even if the dress code for Muslim women is not supposed to apply to them.
"For people who have been watching Sudan, this case against Meriam shouldn't be so surprising, it's just another step in escalation," Stark said.
Ibrahim has been told that she can save her life by denying her Christian faith in court and publicly accepting Islam, though she would still receive 100 lashes for the conviction of adultery.
ICC noted in a press release, however, that such a choice is one that "no free, dignified human being should ever have to face: succumb to forceful conversion and be spared, or exercise her right to freedom of conscience, to stand strong in her faith and, as consequence, to be put to death for believing in the death, and resurrection, of her Savior."