A court sentence in Sudan ordering flogging and the death penalty for Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag has prompted an expression of “profound concern” from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who has urged President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir to “prevent the implementation of this unjust and unconscionable sentence.”
Ishag, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman, was criminally charged for converting from Islam to Christianity and charged with committing adultery for marrying a Christian man, according to media reports.
In his letter to President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, sent on 23 May, Tveit expressed shock over the court’s decision. “Whether Mrs Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was born of Muslim parents or Christian parents, such a sentence runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Sudanese Constitution,” Tveit said. According to the Sudanese constitution, he added, all citizens have the “right to the freedom of religious creed and worship.”
Tveit said that condemning Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag violates a fundamental principle of international human rights law embodied in Sudan’s own constitution.