Middle East

EU presses Sudan to free woman held for apostasy

A file picture taken on May 28, 2014 shows Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy, siting in her cell a day after she gave birth to a baby girl at a women's prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. AFP PHOTO / STR

BRUSSELS: The heads of the EU's major institutions urged Sudanese authorities on Tuesday to free a Christian woman sentenced to hang for apostasy, joining a wave of international condemnation.

Jose Manuel Barroso, Herman Van Rompuy and Martin Schulz "express their deepest dismay and concern" over the fate of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who has been sentenced to a hundred lashes and sentenced to death by hanging on charges of apostasy and adultery.

The EU heads said Sudan had an "international obligation to protect the freedom of religion and belief" and called upon "the responsible Sudanese authorities and appeal courts to revoke this inhumane verdict".

Ishag, who was born to a Muslim father, was sentenced to death on May 15 under Islamic sharia law that has been in place since 1983 and which outlaws conversions under pain of death.

The 27-year-old was raised an Orthodox Christian, her mother's religion, married a Christian man originally from South Sudan and already had a 20-month-old son before she gave birth on May 27.

The case has embarrassed the Sudanese authorities, which gave contradictory statements last week about her release, raising the ire of Western governments and human rights groups.

Ishag's lawyer said Monday a three-judge panel in Sudan will examine an appeal against the sentence but gave no date for a ruling.





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