Sudan's Christians 'Don't Feel Safe in Prayer' After Mother's Death Sentence for Apostasy

Activists comprising the small Christian minority in Sudan say they are now afraid to pray after a Christian mother in the county was recently sentenced to death for her faith.

One Christian activist who chose to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal said in a recent interview that he and others are afraid for their lives following the recent death sentence delivered to Meriam Ibrahim, who has been accused of apostasy and adultery for her Christian faith.

"The church is now contaminated with terror. You don't feel safe in prayer," the activist told CNN in a recent interview. The media outlet also reports that since Ibrahim's sentencing in May, the country's few Christian churches have become progressively emptier as Christians hide their faith, afraid of a similar fate to Ibrahim's.

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Nabeel Adeeb, a human rights lawyer in the country who is also Christian, told CNN that he believes Christianity "[stands] no chance" against Sudan's majority religion of Islam, especially because media propaganda in the country often refers to Christianity as an illegitimate religion.

The growing fear of the Christian minority in Sudan comes after 27-year-old Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging in May. The sentencing was a result of a complaint filed by Ibrahim's family, who argued their daughter had disappeared for years, and when she was relocated she had become a Christian and married a Christian man.

Ibrahim argues, however, that she had always been a Christian, as her mother was Ethiopian Orthodox and her father, who left her and her family when she was six, was a Muslim. Therefore, Ibrahim argues that she is not guilty of apostasy because she has always been a Christian. She also argues that she is innocent of adultery because she and her husband were both Christian before they married.

Ibrahim's death sentence has been postponed for two years, as she recently gave birth to her second child in prison and Sudan's law allows a new mother to wean her child for two years before facing capital punishment.

Some media reports suggest that Ibrahim's death sentence may be lifted, as the BBC reported this past weekend that a foreign ministry official said the 27-year-old was likely to be freed. More recent reports, however, suggest that Ibrahim will in fact be put to death for apostasy.

On Sunday, the foreign ministry told The Telegraph that ultimately only Sudan's courts have the power to decide Ibrahim's fate.

A White House petition calling for Ibrahim's release has already gained 39,000 signatures since it started on Monday, but it needs 100,000 signatures by the end of June to force President Obama to directly address Ibrahim's imprisonment.

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