The world has been watching this week as the trials of Sudanese Christian Mariam Yehya Ibrahim has played out. After an international outcry, Mrs. Ibrahim was released into the custody of her family and lawyers. With a U.S. visa in hand, she headed to the airport and was there again detained.
Her case is a heartbreaking example of modern day religious persecution. According to CNN:
According to her lawyer, the case began when one of Ibrahim’s relatives, a Muslim, filed a criminal complaint saying her family was shocked to find out she had married Wani, a Christian, after she was missing for several years.
The Sudanese court considered Ibrahim a Muslim because her father was Muslim, but she said she was a Christian and never practiced Islam. She was charged with adultery, because a Muslim woman’s marriage to a Christian man is illegal in Sudan, and with apostasy, accused of illegally renouncing what was alleged to be her original faith.
Authorities warned her to renounce Christianity by May 15, but she did not, instead responding that her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, raised her as a Christian. She said her Sudanese Muslim father abandoned her when she was 6.
“I am a Christian,” she said during her sentencing hearing last month, “and I will remain a Christian.”
She was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, along with 100 lashes. Sudanese Parliament speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen defended the apostasy conviction, insisting last month that Ibrahim was raised in a Muslim environment.
It is clear that this case will continue to unfold in the days ahead until Mariam Yehya Ibrahim and her family arrive in an environment where they are free to worship in peace.
In the mean time, as we continue to pray for this brave woman and those seeking her eventual freedom, we’re reminded to also remember the countless souls around the world who suffer from similar persecution as we also give great thanks to God for our own religious liberty.
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Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey