Sudanese couple face flogging for ‘adultery' after court nullifies marriage over Christian conversion

Baraka Parish church at Hajj Yusuf, on the outskirts of Khartoum, Sudan, February 10, 2013. | Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

A young Christian couple in Sudan who have two children together face 100 lashes on charges of “adultery” after a Sharia (Islamic law) court nullified their marriage due to the husband’s conversion to Christianity, according to a report.

The couple, 34-year-old Hamouda Tia Kafi and 25-year-old Nada Hamad Shukralah from Al Jazirah state, got married in 2016 when both were Muslims and troubles began two years later after Kafi put his faith in Christ, Morning Star News said.

Shukralah’s family filed a case in a sharia court, which dissolved their marriage, as apostasy was a crime punishable by death at the time, it explained.

In 2021, Shukralah also converted to Christianity and returned with their two children to her husband, as Sudan had decriminalized apostasy a year after the end of President Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist regime. Both are members of a Baptist church.

However, socially, conversion was still not accepted.

Shukralah’s brother charged them with adultery under Article 146 of Sudan’s 1991 criminal law based on the Sharia court’s annulment of their marriage, leading to the couple's arrest last August.

While the couple got bail four days later, the charges remained.

“The court has interrogated the couple after two of the witnesses told the court that the marriage between the couple is illegal. As a result, they are accused of adultery,” their attorney was quoted as saying.

Amid growing threats from hardline Muslims, in particular Shukralah’s brother, their next hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, the attorney said.

In the case of adultery by an unmarried person, Article 146 calls for a sentence of flogging and expulsion from the area. If the convicted is married, adultery is punishable by death by stoning under Article 146.

After regularly being included among the worst countries in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, Sudan was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern" in December 2019. The "CPC" list designates nations that tolerate or engage in egregious violations of religious freedom.

However, advances in religious freedom lasted for only two years in Sudan until a military coup last October.

The coup brought back fears of repression and harsh implementation of Islamic law, as an Islamist “deep state” rooted in former President al-Bashir’s 30 years of power remains influential.

Sudan is still the world’s 13th most dangerous country for Christians, according to the Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List.

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