Sudan Christian Woman Hiding From Islamic Persecution at US Embassy

Sunday, 29 Jun 2014 10:04 AM

 

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Lawyers for a Sudanese Christian woman in hiding at the US embassy in Khartoum sought the dismissal on Sunday of forgery charges against her so she can leave the country.

"We submitted our request" to prosecutors, Mohanad Mustafa, a lawyer for Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 26, told AFP.

He added that it is unclear how long a decision could take.

"We have to wait," Mustafa said.

Ishag is charged with forgery and providing false information in relation to a South Sudanese travel document she used previously to try to leave Sudan.

If prosecutors throw out the case, Ishag, her American husband Daniel Wani and their two children will be able to travel, Mustafa said earlier.

The family took refuge in the US mission on Thursday after Ishag's release from a police station where she had been held for two days, after security agents stopped them from travelling to the United States.

Ishag was released from prison last Monday when an appeals court overturned her death sentence and conviction for apostasy from Islam.

Sudan says Ishag should have used a Sudanese passport for her trip. Mustafa says she does not have such a document, but he expects authorities will provide her with one.

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It is not confirmed, "but we discussed it with them and we think they will be cooperative".

He added that the government has taken "a very good step to solve this problem".

On May 15, a court sentenced Ishag to hang after convicting her under Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.

Not long after her conviction, she gave birth to a girl in prison.

Her case raised questions of religious freedom, sparking deep concern among Western governments and human rights activists.

Ishag was born to a Muslim father who abandoned the family, leaving her to be raised by her Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum, which said she joined the Catholic church shortly before she married.

Christian activists say a man claiming to be her brother has stated that the family would carry out the death sentence if she were acquitted.

Wani said such threats forced the family to go into hiding and seek the embassy's protection.

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© AFP 2014

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