Sudan Frees Woman Put on Death Row For Apostasy

Image: Sudan court orders release of Christian woman on death row
A file photo dated May 29, 2014 shows Sudanese woman Meriam Ibrahim, who was on death row for marrying a Christian and refusing to convert back to Islam, at Omdurman women's prison near Khartoum, Sudan.EPA FILE

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A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for marrying a Christian was freed from jail Monday after her conviction was overturned, her lawyer told NBC News. Meriam Ibrahim was pregnant when she was put on death row in May and she reportedly had her child behind bars. The court said because she was raised by her Muslim father her marriage to a Christian man amounted to apostasy — the crime of abandoning or criticizing Islam. The court also sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery.

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But her lawyer Elshareef Ali Mohammed said Monday that an appeal court had overturned the decision after it recognized that Sudan’s constitution allows religious freedom of expression. She was now at home with her husband and young son. "She is very happy," the lawyer said via telephone from the capital Khartoum just after 6 p.m. local time, an hour after Ibrahim was released. "At first she did not believe the news that she was to be released but she was very surprised in the end."

Ibrahim's conviction was met by widespread international outcry, including appeals by Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, tens of thousands of tweets, and several online petitions, one of which reached almost one million digital signatures.


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— Alexander Smith