Opinion

Things you can be killed for in Sudan: Leaving the Islamic faith, even if you never practiced it

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Ashe Schow,Africa,Islamic Jihad,War on Women,Sudan

In Sudan -- as in several other Muslim-majority countries -- the punishment for converting from Islam is death. And its definition of what makes a person one faith or another is extremely obtuse.

Make no mistake, this is not Islam’s problem, this is man’s law that uses religion to justify unspeakable acts against human rights.

Meriam Ibrahim, a pregnant 27-year-old Sudanese woman, will be executed in June for the crime of supposedly converting to Christianity. Born to a Muslim father who was completely absent from her upbringing, Ibrahim was raised by her Christian Orthodox mother as a Christian.

But because she was born in Sudan, that makes Ibrahim a Muslim, according to Sudanese law. And because Ibrahim is a Muslim, her marriage to a Christian man was prohibited, therefore it was not recognized by the Sudanese government, and therefore, the two were committing adultery.

So not only has Ibrahim been charged with apostasy (leaving Islam) but also adultery for a consenting relationship with her husband.

Apostasy is punishable by death under section 126 of the 1991 Sudan Penal Code. Adultery with an unmarried man (which Ibrahim's husband would be considered since the marriage wasn't recognized) is punishable by 100 lashes under section 146. Ibrahim's husband could also be exiled for one year in addition to the flogging.

Ibrahim was first charged with adultery in 2013 when an anonymous family member accused her of adultery because she was cohabitating with her Christian husband. Then on Feb. 7, Ibrahim was arrested for apostasy and sent to jail along with her 20-month-old son. The fate of Ibrahim’s child is unknown, as the boy will not be given back to his non-Muslim father. Ibrahim’s husband cannot even visit the boy.

On Mother’s Day, May 11, Ibrahim was given a hearing that allowed witnesses to testify that she had never practiced Islam. So far it is unknown whether the hearing will allow her to avoid the death penalty.

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