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Coptic Solidarity Condemns Death Sentence of Pregnant Sudanese Christian
Contact Hal Meawad, Coptic Solidarity, 240-644-5153, info@copticsolidarity.org

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Coptic Solidarity is outraged at the barbaric application of Sharia law in Sudan which yesterday resulted in a judge sentencing a Christian woman, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, to death by hanging for 'apostasy.' Ibrahim is 9 months pregnant and has also been sentenced to receive 100 lashes after giving birth for having intercourse with her own Christian husband.

This case demonstrates the complete lack of religious freedom accorded to religious minorities under Sharia law.  Ibrahim was born to a Muslim Sudanese father and an Orthodox Ethiopian mother.  Despite her father abandoning the family when she was just 6 years old, Sudanese law considers Ibrahim a Muslim because her father was.  Ibrahim was raised a Christian by her mother and never professed Islam. In this manner, Ibrahim has been convicted of 'apostasy' for leaving a faith she never professed. Under Sharia, conversion away from Islam merits the death penalty.

Ibrahim was originally imprisoned on adultery charges because a Muslim woman is prohibited from having relations with a Christian man, even if that man is her husband.  Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a South Sudanese national who also has US citizenship.  Daniel and Meriam have a son who is 20 months old as well. Wani has stated that the US Embassy in Sudan has done little to assist him despite being a US citizen

Ibrahim's sentencing is an egregious violation of religious freedom as defined by all international standards upholding religious freedom.  Yet her case highlights the plight of religious minorities throughout the region who are every day suffering persecution as second class citizens merely for believing and practicing a faith other than Islam.

Coptic Solidarity and MECHRIC (the Middle East Christians Committee) are jointly hosting a conference in DC June 26-27 which will create awareness of these very issues facing religious minorities in the Middle East and the surrounding region.  This case highlights the urgency and importance of more concerted international action to promote religious freedom.

Today, a bill which would provide for the creation of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia, S. 653, languishes in the Senate.  While the region of focus does not include Sudan, this case illustrates the urgent need for the US to have an expert individual dedicated to promoting religious freedom in cases such as Ibrahim's as well as to focuses on broader issues. US Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have both placed holds on this bill preventing it from being scheduled for a vote.  The House counterpart, H.R. 301, already passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

Coptic Solidarity calls on the US government to protect the rights of Daniel Wani and to vigorously press the Sudanese government to reverse Ibrahim's death and lashing sentences.  Coptic Solidarity also calls on Senators Lee and Coburn to immediately remove their holds on S. 653 and allow this critical bill to be scheduled for a vote.

Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt. For more information, contact Hal Meawad 240-644-5153 or info@copticsolidarity.org.