A Sudanese judge has sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom.
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death,” Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman on Thursday, addressing her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
Her Christian name is Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag.
Khalifa also sentenced her to 100 lashes for “adultery”.
Ishag, who rights activists say is pregnant and 27 years old, reacted without emotion when Abbas delivered the verdict at a court in the Khartoum district of Haj Yousef.
Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic religious leader spoke with her in the caged dock for about 30 minutes.
Then she calmly told the judge: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
Sudan’s Islamist regime introduced sharia law in 1983 but extreme punishments other than flogging are rare.
After the verdict about 50 people demonstrated against the decision.
“No to executing Meriam,” said one of their signs, while another proclaimed: “Religious rights are a constitutional right.”
In a speech, one demonstrator said they would continue their activism with sit-ins and protests until she is freed.
A smaller group supporting the verdict also arrived but there was no violence.
“This is a decision of the law. Why are you gathered here?” one supporter asked, prompting an activist to retort: “Why do you want to execute Meriam? Why don’t you bring corruptors to the court?”