UPDATE: The Freedom From Religion Foundation has emailed a “call for action” on this issue, part of which I reproduce below. It gives a link to a petition and contact information for the Sudanese embassy:
Spread the word via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter!
You can copy and paste the following message (or write your own) to the contacts listed below:
Please do everything in your power to halt the execution of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and grant her clemency. She should not be hanged to death for the victimless crime of apostasy. Please immediately intervene to save this mother and prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.
The post of U.S. ambassador to Sudan is currently vacant. The embassy is headed by Chargé d’Affaires Joseph Stafford. The American, Canadian, British and Dutch embassies in Khartoum have issued a statement of “deep concern” over the sentence.
Meriam Yehya isn’t dead yet, but, according to the BBC, she’s received a sentence of lashing and then hanging from a Sudanese court. Her crime: apostasy. You know by now what that means. She’s supposedly a Muslim who has left the faith, and for that sharia law prescribes death. (The penalty is also approved by a substantial fraction of the world’s Muslims). But, at least according to the article, her crime was not as simple as abandoning Islam. She isn’t really a Muslim. And she married a Christian man, which is illegal in Sudan.
Amnesty International said the woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood. In court, the judge addressed her by her Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
But that didn’t even matter:
She was convicted of adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan’s version of Islamic law, which says Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims.
(She was given three days to “recant” but refused.) Nor did it matter that she was married, for marrying a Christian is “adultery.” Here’s the unhappy couple: Oh, and did I mention that she is eight months pregnant? On this end the Muslim judge showed infinite mercy:
The judge also sentenced the woman to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery – because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law. This will reportedly be carried out when she has recovered from giving birth.
Praise Allah that they won’t lash a pregnant woman! That’s truly a religion of peace.
And there’s even more mercy:
Local media report the [hanging] sentence on the woman, who is pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.
The Independent in Ireland adds that she is a physician, and that her 20-month old son is in jail with her. The article has the absolutely accurate headline: Amnesty International has objected, while there were a few supporters of the sentence (and some supporters of Dr. Yehya) outside the courtroom. The Independent notes other countries’ objections:
In a joint statement, the embassies of the US, UK, the Netherlands and Canada expressed “deep concern”.
“We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs,” it said.
Okay, so where are the objections from other Western countries, and, especially, from Islamic-majority countries? Don’t expect them. Where are the “moderate” Muslims crying out en masse against this kind of barbarism? Don’t expect it. The Islamic moderates, by and large, simply keep silent when something like this happens. Would Catholics keep silent if a woman were sentenced to be burned at the stake for leaving Catholicism?
This is precisely the kind of idiotic, medieval mentality that Ayaan Hirsi Ali spent her career decrying—especially the complete disenfranchising of women in many Islamic countries. I’m now reading her book Infidel, and if you haven’t read it, I recommend doing so, especially if you think Brandeis had any good reason to withdraw her honorary degree. (BTW, do read Timothy Egan’s great criticism of the “commencement police” —which doesn’t mention Hirsi Ali—in yesterday’s New York Times.) Infidel is a terrific and eye-opening read, and makes it shockingly clear how women are treated as property, not as people, in places like Sudan, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. I’ll add to that Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
This behavior is incompatible with Englightenment values, humanism, and simple human decency. I consider Brandeis, by rescinding Hirsi Ali’s honorary degree, as complicit in this behavior, tacitly punishing her “Islamophobia” instead of rightfully lauding her fight for women’s rights under Islam—a fight that has forever cost her a normal life. She will be under armed guard until she dies (no thanks to Reza Aslan, the Islamic “moderate”).
Women like Meriam Yehya will continue to be lashed, stoned, and hanged until Islam becomes genuinely moderate, something that I don’t see happening in the near future.
And how can we even countenance any society in which half its members—those with two X chromosomes—aren’t allowed to follow their aspirations? In many places they’re forbidden from even getting an education. What a waste of human potential!