‘Deep concern’ over apostasy case in Islamist Sudan
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir - REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

KHARTOUM:  Western embassies in Sudan on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” over the case of a woman who activists say risks a death sentence for apostasy.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who says she is Christian, was convicted last Sunday in the Khartoum-area district of Haj Yousef.

“We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs,” the embassies of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the Netherlands said in a joint statement.

That right is included in Sudan’s 2005 interim constitution as well as in international human rights law, they said.

The court has given Ishag, who is pregnant, until Thursday to recant her faith, Amnesty International says.

A refusal would put her at risk of the death penalty, and she also faces up to 100 lashes for adultery, the watchdog said in an “urgent action” notice about her case.

The embassies urged Sudanese legal authorities “to approach Ms Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people”.

Sudan’s Islamist regime introduced Sharia law in 1983 but extreme punishments are rare.

Amnesty said Ishag, 27, was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her Muslim father was absent.

“It’s not only Sudan. In Saudi Arabia, in all the Muslim countries, it is not allowed at all for a Muslim to change his religion,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told AFP.

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