You probably haven't heard of the 27 year old woman named Mariam Ibrahim considering the mass media rarely covers stories that hold great significance. Mariam was charged with adultery and apostasy and was sentenced to prison. Not only was she sentenced to prison, she also has to undergo 100 lashes, and be hung to death. Although Mariam was found guilty of adultery, she really didn't commit adultery; according to its definition. Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse. As stated before, Mariam was charged with adultery but she did not commit adultery. According to the Islamic law or Sharia Law, it is considered adultery if a Muslim marries outside of their religion. The story gets even more bizarre.
Mariam was abandoned at the age of six by her biological father who was a Muslim, and was raised by her biological mother who was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Mariam was raised in Christianity and only knew Christianity. According to Islam, any child born of a Muslim man is considered Muslim. However, Mariam was abandoned by her Muslim father; she was never raised by him. So, why does she still have to be considered a Muslim?
At eight months pregnant, Mariam was arrested on February 7, 2014, with her 20-month old son, and was placed in a women's prison where she was shackled to a wall. Yes, you heard correctly! Mariam and her 20-month old son was forced into prison, and the son is not allowed to be with his father, Daniel Wani (Mariam's husband), or be raised by him because he is a Christian. Mariam was charged with "adultery" because she simply married a man that was a Christian. Mariam was also charged with apostasy. Apostasy is the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam. Now, keep in mind that Mariam was abandoned by her Muslim father. According to the Sudan's Public Order Criminal Code, Mariam is a Muslim by default because she was born in Sudan. Since Mariam is considered a Muslim by default, her marriage to her Christian husband is considered illegal; not valid in the eyes of the Sudan Courts. Some Muslims abide by a strict Islamic law that does not allow marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men.
Due to Mariam being charged with apostasy, she has been sentenced to receiving 100 lashes as punishment for converting to Christianity. During Mariam's court proceeding, she was ordered by the courts to abandon her adopted Christian faith and return to Islam. Mariam was given three days to renounce her Christian faith, but she refused. Her argument was that she had been a Christian all her life, and that she could not rescind her beliefs. During the hearing, Judge Abbas al Khalifa asked Mariam if she would return to Islam; Mariam refused. She responded by saying, "I am a Christian." The court then ordered for her to spend the remainder of her pregnancy in prison, and after she delivers her baby, she will be punished to receive 100 lashes and hung to death.
If that wasn't bizarre enough, there is more! Daniel Wani, Mariam's husband, is an U.S citizen. He resides in New Hampshire, and has been a U.S. citizen since 2005. Legally, his 20- month old son is a U.S citizen but they have been denied help by the U.S government, as well as the U.S Embassy in Sudan. Daniel Wani was in the process of bringing his wife and son to the United States, but Mariam was arrested before this could take place.
Mariam gave birth to her daughter, Maya, on May 27, 2014 in the hospital wing at Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North Khartoum, Sudan. The Sharia court has postponed her sentence to be carried out in two years in order to give her time to recover from childbirth, and to wean baby Maya.
If this wasn't bad enough, there is more! Mariam's lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa Elnour, said the case hinges around the testimony of two men who claim to be Mariam's brothers, and one woman who claims to be her mother. What is so bizarre about this is that Mariam's mother passed away in 2012. In court, these individuals claimed that Mariam disappeared from the family home in the east of Sudan, and they discovered that she had been living in Khartoum; married to a Christian man. Mr. Elnour stated that all three witnesses had proven to be liars because their evidence to the court was highly contradictory. He had suggested that they were making up the story in an attempt to claim ownership of Mariam's successful general store that is located in a shopping mall on the outskirts of Khartoum. Mr. Elnour further added that he can prove that Mariam's mother died in 2012, and that the other two witnesses were frauds, but the courts were not interested in this evidence.
Mohaned Elnour is not only Mariam's lawyer, but he is also a Muslim. He has received countless threats for defending Mariam. Mr. Elnour is committed in defending Mariam despite the death threats, and will continue to do so in hopes of seeing her go free. Please pray for Mariam and her family!
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