Yesterday I posted a piece which, based on a report by the Israeli outlet Arutz Sheva 7, suggesting that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian doctor whose father was Muslim, had been exculpated from the crime of apostasy. She had been imprisoned with her new baby (and apparently still is), was sentenced to 100 lashes after the baby had aged a bit, and then was to be hanged when her child became two years old. This sentence was imposed by applying sharia law.
My elation about her release was premature. As both Arutz Sheva and the South China Morning Post report, the rumors were just that—rumors and not news. Yet there was a firm basis for this rumor, a statement by a Sudanese official. From the SCMP:
Abdullah al-Azraq, a foreign ministry undersecretary, said earlier on Saturday that Ishag “will be freed within days in line with legal procedure that will be taken by the judiciary and the ministry of justice”.
Now he’s backed off:
But the foreign ministry said the release of the 27-year-old, who gave birth to a baby girl in prison on Tuesday, depended on whether a court accepted her defence team’s appeal request.
A ministry statement said Azraq actually told media on Saturday “that the defence team of the concerned citizen has appealed the verdict … and if the appeals court rules in her favour, she will be released”.
“Some media took what the undersecretary said out of context, changing the meaning of what he said,” Azraq said.
After Azraq’s comment on Saturday, Ishag’s husband, Daniel Wani, said he did not believe she would be freed.
Aretz Sheva adds:
Ishag’s husband, US citizen Daniel Wani, also denied that her release was imminent.
“No Sudanese or foreign mediator contacted me. Maybe there are contacts between the Sudanese government and foreign sides that I’m not aware of,” Wani told BBC. “As far as I’m concerned I will wait for the appeal which my lawyer submitted and I hope that my wife will be released.”
Manar Idriss, Sudan researcher for Amnesty International, reiterated that reports of a release remain unconfirmed.
“We’ve received no confirmation that Meriam is going to be released and the appeal court has yet to issue any such ruling confirming a release,” she said.
I’m hoping that this has already been worked out in advance, and the appeals court will set her free. Until then, the lashing and hanging are still in the offing.
As for those misguided readers who claimed that we, or I, cared about this woman only because she was married to a U.S. citizen, or had a high-profile profession, you’re simply wrong. We singled her out simply because she came to our attention, and, in fact, this site has been consistently opposed to the marginalization and brutalization of Muslim women in the Middle East—all oppressed women, including the one stoned to death in front of Lahore’s High Court building last week.
And on the latter issue, a new report from CNN notes that when Farzana Parveen, 25, was stoned in an honour killing for marrying a man out of love rather than to satisfy her parents’ demands, the Pakistani police stood by and did nothing:
Pakistani police officers will be investigated because they didn’t intervene when a woman was publicly beaten to death with bricks, a court official said Friday.
. . . “I have also ordered that a case be filed against the police officers present at the crime scene,” Jillani said, because it appears the “cops helped the criminals by watching the crime as silent spectator.”
Her husband (more on him below) described the killing:
“We went to the court to seek justice [Parveen’s family filed kidnapping charges and also demanded money] to tell them what had happened. We were sitting there when all of a sudden they appeared,” he told GEO TV. “Someone fired shots in the air. My wife and I were sitting and then bricks were thrown, then a lady came and took Farzana away. …”
Police stood and watched and didn’t come to their aid, Iqbal said. He said the crowd killed his wife and her unborn child.
The “excuse” for inaction doesn’t wash:
Aamir Jalil Siddique, vice president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, told CNN, “We believe that this was an oversight on the part of the police — they were stationed there and did not do anything. We have security, Punjab police officers, at the high court 24 hours a day. The advocate general’s office, which is next door to the gate, has additional security.”
The issue is not black and white because Parveen’s husband, Mohammad Iqbal, admitted strangling his first wife six years ago so he could marry for love. New reports say that he served a mere year in jail for that. He gets a year for wife murder, but his new wife is battered to death with bricks for merely falling in love. How fair is that?
Parveen is one of nearly 900 Pakistani woman killed for “honour” last year, while the UN estimates about 5,000 women are killed worldwide yearly for the same stupid code of honour. One rarely hears of a male killed in this way.
Police have arrested four more people in the case. Perhaps, if convincted, they’ll get more than a year in jail.
I still maintain that the U.S. government, fearful of Muslim wrath, has been cowardly in its failure to denounce Islamic oppression and mistreatment of women. According to CNN, the British Foreigh Secretary spoke out about this stoning:
Britsh Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “There is absolutely no honor in honor killings, and I urge the government of Pakistan to do all in its power to eradicate this barbaric practice.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear something like that from the lips of John Kerry?