Sudan will free Christian doctor sentenced to death for apostasy

June 1, 2014 • 5:49 am

There is some good news on this lovely summer morning (well, it feel like summer, with temperatures in the 80s in Chicago).

On May 16 I reported the sentencing to death for apostasy of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a doctor living in a Muslim country. She had married a Christian man and was raised as a Christian by a Christian mother, but, as her father was Muslim, that apparently constitutes apostasy under Sudanese (sharia) law. She was also eight months pregnant. The sentence included 100 lashes “after she had recovered from giving birth,” and then hanging when her child was two years old.  This, of course, is barbarism, an offense to every rational person.

Thus I’m delighted to report that, according to Arutz Sheva 7 from Israel, Ibrahim is to be freed:

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was condemned to death on May 15 under the Islamic Sharia law that has been in place in Sudan since 1983 and which outlaws conversions under pain of death.

“The lady will be freed within days in line with legal procedure that will be taken by the judiciary and the ministry of justice,” Abdullah al-Azraq, a foreign ministry undersecretary, told AFP.

Azraq, who spoke via telephone from London, did not elaborate.

The 27-year-old gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday in a women’s prison in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

Her husband, U.S. citizen Daniel Wani, visited Ishag and the baby on Thursday, after being denied access earlier in the week, and told AFPboth were in “good health.”

There’s little doubt that this reversal of barbarism was due to international pressure:

Her case sparked international condemnation, with British Prime Minister David Cameron saying Saturday he was “appalled” by the “barbaric” sentence given to Ishag.

Britain and Canada had summoned the Sudanese envoys to their countries last week and told them the sentence violated Sudan’s international human rights obligations.

United Nations experts have called the conviction “outrageous” and said it must be overturned.

Sudan, while defending the verdict, had earlier hinted that Ishag might be freed, saying on May 18 the verdict was “preliminary”.

Fox News added this on May 23:

International pressure is mounting on Sudan to release Ibrahim, including an online petition by Amnesty International that has over 600,000 signatures.

The U.S. response appears to have been tepid, and I don’t recall President Obama saying anything about the case, although it’s reported that Ibrahim’s husband is an American citizen. Fox adds:

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday that the administration is doing what it can on the case.

“Through our U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department have communicated our strong concern to the highest levels of the Government of Sudan over this case,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “We’ve also joined with other embassies in Khartoum to express our concern in a widely distributed public statement. U.S. Embassy officials have been engaged in the case from the earliest days.”

Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani is confined to a wheelchair and “totally depends on her for all details of his life,” her lawyer said. Wani said when he called the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum in April prior to his wife’s death sentence, there was no interest in the case. He said he emphasized that his son was a U.S. citizen, by virtue of his own citizenship, embassy officials demanded DNA evidence. Wani said he agreed and even provided official wedding documents and birth certificates, but that the embassy still offered no help.

If this is true, Obama’s lack of a statement can be construed as fear of offending Muslims. At any rate, it’s shameful that the U.S. didn’t join Canada and Britain in the very strong gesture of summoning the Sudanese ambassador for a dressing-down.

h/t: Malgorzata

35 thoughts on “Sudan will free Christian doctor sentenced to death for apostasy

  1. Now all they have to do is keep her safe after her release until she can be gotten out of that sad excuse for a country. There’s a lot of “Sharia do it yourselfers” out there that would love to carry out the sentence themselves, just to prove their depth of devotion to their “all-merciful” Allah.

  2. The last claim is from the Fascist News Channel, a source that has no more credibility then did Pravda during the former Soviet Union. I would believe nothing that issues from that source unless confirmed by other reliable sources of information.

    1. Oh for crying out loud. Are you going to discount the Israeli source too? And your claims about Pravda are overstated. Pravda, after all, wasn’t allowed to criticize the Russian regime, while Fox news (and I’m not a big fan of it) regularly goes after Obama.

      The important thing is that the woman will be released.

      1. I think the point is that Fox News is very likely to have slanted the report to put the Obama adninistration in a bad light. The basic story about international pressure and the release are no doubt true but I, too, don’t trust FN to report this sort of thing with complete honesty.

        1. I would also point out that we don’t know what the administration has been doing behind the scenes out of the public eye. Ofter, quiet diplomacy is more effective then shouting from the rooftops. I have no doubt that, if and when the lady is actually freed and allowed to leave the country, the administration will leak information which I guarantee will be 180 degrees at odds with what Fox News is reporting (and will be equally unreliable as it will be self serving).

          1. That was my reaction, too. I don’t always trust Obama administration to do the right thing, but I trust Fox coverage even less.

  3. “At any rate, it’s shameful that the U.S. didn’t join Canada and Britain in the very strong gesture of summoning the Sudanese ambassador for a dressing-down.”

    Oh, please. With all due respect you have no idea what the Obama administration has done behind the scenes on behalf of the American citizen. From the Fox news article:

    ” “Through our U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department have communicated our strong concern to the highest levels of the Government of Sudan over this case,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.”

    Public statements by the US president most likely would have been counter-productive, with public sentiment of any cooperation of Khartoum with Washington probably creating an untenable situation for Sudanese leaders to release the woman. The goal of the US State dept was different from that of the UK and Canada since 1) the situation involved a US citizen, and 2) the US carries a higher profile and more controversial position in the Muslim world.

    1. Lay off the “oh” pleases, which is a snarky comment to the host. And there is no “due respect” here.

      You could have said everything you said without the snark.

      And I stand by what I said. The ambassador could have been called in without Obama saying anything.

      Now apologize for the gratuitous snark.

      1. According to the books I’ve read about President Obama, he does work behind the scenes. You might look at the articles about the US POW that was recently released.


      2. You are correct, Dr Coyne, that remark did come across as unnecessary snarky. Please accept my apology. (End of the night call, a couple tough deliveries, no coffee– not an excuse, but a reason.)

        I stand by my sentiment that a vocal, muscular stance may have a place, but probably not when intervening in the welfare of a vulnerable individual held captive by screaming idiots beholden to medieval religious ideology.

        I will be more careful with my language. And I do respect your opinion.

  4. Well one question is will they expedite issuing her a green card (or at least a vias) as the spouse of a US citizen and the child a US passport so that the moment she leaves prison (assuming this happens) she and the child can be on a plane out of Sudan.

  5. If this is true, Obama’s lack of a statement can be construed as fear of offending Muslims.

    Or maybe they kept quiet to keep from drawing attention to anyplace near Benghazi.
    Which is where they’re keeping the Malaysian airliner full of gay terrorists who are preparing to invade our sacred soil and take away our freedoms.
    Then Jesus will come and something something.

  6. There is a lot to criticize the President for. I frequently do. I wonder often, though, if Obama is actually is actually as far to the right of Nixon in some respects as his actions so often seem to indicate, or if the unprecedented level of opposition from his political opposition — a demonstrated willingness to inflict large measures of economic and social harm upon the nation so as to limit, if not prevent, any successful policy implementation by the Administration — has resulted in a (very unwise, very unsuccessful) abandonment of core principles in an effort to court legislative comity. History will be kind to neither side for their respective records during 09 – 16.

    That said, keeping the President in the shadows — if indeed the result of a deliberate policy decision by the Administration (and I have no way of knowing if this is the case) — kept him out of the crosshairs of right wing media for the last weeks over the issue. They would have Benghazi’d him if he personally spoke about it, sure as shit, or maybe accused him of trying to co-opt personal Christian tragedy for his personal slick and duplicitous liberal Muslim political ends.

    1. My take is that Obama is unconventional as a politician, perhaps owing to his history as a community organizer in Chicago politics. It made him very pragmatic, and almost immune to public criticism. He fights battles only if he thinks he can win them; he will compromise on anything to get results. It is an unusual approach, and often makes it seem that he doesn’t care about principles. On the other hand, it does get some things done, even if it is by hook or by crook. History may look on him more favorably than you think.

    2. ” . . . or maybe accused him of trying to co-opt personal Christian tragedy for his personal slick and duplicitous liberal Muslim political ends.”

      I wonder if and how they might accuse him were she a secularist/humanist/rationalist/atheist?

  7. If I recall correctly, she is considered Muslim by virtue of her father’s faith.

    Which would mean that, according to Sharia, Obama really is a Muslim. (assuming the rule also applies to sons, which may very well not)

    1. Like his mother, Obama’s biological father, Barack Obama Sr. was an atheist who had left Islam.

  8. If Sudan actually follows through and releases Dr. Ibrahim, that would be wonderful.

    But the corruption in the US with respect to prisoners and executions is such that we have damned little standing left in the international community on these matters. Never mind Guantanamo and all the “black sites”; even domestically we imprison more of our people than anybody else; we imprison more minorities than anybody else; and we wantonly kill our prisoners with cruelty and reckless abandon matched only by the most oppressive of regimes.

    Even if Obama wanted to take a stand for Dr. Ibrahim, he lacks the moral authority to do so. That means that he’d have to spend political capital for the cause, both here and abroad…and, frankly, I rather doubt that he thinks that her life is worth it.

    This is, after all, the same President who regularly brags about ordering targeted assassinations, who has issued far more (lethal!) writs of attainder than any other American in our entire history, and who has demonstrated absolutely no remorse whatsoever about so-called “collateral damage” resulting from all the executive executions he’s ordered. And, oh-by-the-way, the continuing Commander in Chief of the longest war in American history, a war he’s promised to bring to an end “within the next six months” since before he was elected several years ago. Human life — nor the rule of law — just doesn’t mean shit to him, except occasionally as a bit of soaring rhetoric in a stump speech.



      1. If you’d rather I didn’t comment on the topic, that’s of course your right to ask.

        But I don’t see how it’s irrelevant. Your own closing paragraph:

        If this is true, Obama’s lack of a statement can be construed as fear of offending Muslims. At any rate, it’s shameful that the U.S. didn’t join Canada and Britain in the very strong gesture of summoning the Sudanese ambassador for a dressing-down.

        I don’t think Obama’s lack of statement has anything significant to do with fear of offending Muslims, and instead has everything to do with not caring about killing Muslims (as evidenced by all the Muslims he’s ordered the CIA and Special Forces and the military to kill, including countless thousands of women and children just like Dr. Ibrahim and her baby in “collateral damage”), and not caring about unjust imprisonment (as evidenced by the continuation of Guantanamo, Black Sites, and his own “Justice” Department’s unprecedented ramping up of domestic incarceration rates). He clearly doesn’t care about similar cases both here (how many American death row inmates has he pardoned?) and elsewhere abroad (what diplomatic strings has he pulled to get China to cut back on executions?), so what’s unique about Dr. Ibrahim’s case from Obama’s perspective that should prompt him to action?

        If the topic is Obama’s motives for inaction in this case, I think his garden variety fondness for tyranny documented every evening on the news is a much better theory than fear of giving offense to a politically-insignificant domestically-despised minority to whom he’s not shown any previous deference. The problem isn’t that he’s afraid of Muslims; it’s that he doesn’t value life, nor liberty, nor the pursuit of happiness.

        Neither Canada nor Britain have the death penalty; neither imprison their citizens the way we do here in the States; neither are using flying death robots to rain down murder from the skies in Muslim countries. Compare them with the US and our political leadership, and it should be obvious why Dr. Ibrahim’s impending doom would matter to them but not to the US administration.



        1. Just like to throw in, I can all too easily imagine our Prime Minister Stephen Harper would love nothing more to rain down death on Muslims, he is just prevented from it for many many reasons. He would out-Bush Bush if he could.

  9. The newspaper “Le Monde” online reports this Sunday that Sudan has denied all claims that the person will be released (source:AFP, 19:15 France time).

  10. While toodling around a couple hours ago my radio source (I think it was either BBC or NPR)quoted a Sudan source that this announcement was premature that the matter was “before the courts”

  11. What about the “apostates” who are not married to Americans, or pregnant? Why do we care only about one individual? Or is she the only one in this situation?

    1. Are you certain you want the answer to that?
      I suspect the muslim gulag in countries like Sudan counts several individuals who have no friends or acquaintances in the West and who are thrashed to withing inches of their lives, without the outside world ever taking notice.

    2. Exactly how my mind runs whenever there’s some particularly high-profile case attracting such publicity. One wonders if all the attention will ultimately only make things worse for the less heralded cases.

    3. I don’t know why you care only about this individual, and haven’t tried to find out how many other people are in this situation or what you can do to help them.

      Other people may realize that they are dealing with limited resources: that sort of “why do we?” question in response to trying to help someone comes perilously close to suggesting that if we cannot save the whole world, there is no point trying to improve anything.

  12. According to a British TV report which I half-listened-to (so we know it’s reliable, yeah right) Britain gave Sudan 2M pounds in aid last year, so their protest may have had a financial threat attached.

    I’m sure the sharia court will be able to find something in the Koran that allows her to be pardoned, if sufficiently leaned upon from above. Courts usually do. Come to that, how closely does the verdict of a court reflect government policy – we know courts in the US (and anywhere else) can do extreme and loopy things on occasion. This may well have been the case here and the Sudanese government (insofar as they cared) may have been disconcerted by it and wishing it would go away.

    On the whole, though, we regard judicial independence as good thing, though this presumes a rational legal code and not a batshit insane one. This is one case where, I guess, we would like to see it overruled.

    (Disclaimer: I know nothing of the Sudanese government and I’m not trying to defend them. The whole affair’s appalling. The only redeeming feature is that the UK got off its usually-spineless arse to protest. Also Canada and quite possibly the US though I’m not in a position to characterise their arses.)

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