Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

In a case which has shocked the world, CNN reports a Christian in Sudan has been sentenced to death for her faith; ‘I’m just praying,’ her husband says.

Watch this video

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s lawyer says she refused to recant her Christian faith in court
  • Husband tells CNN: “I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do.”
  • Ibrahim, 27, has been convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death
  • She considers herself Christian, but a court says she is Muslim
Hours after a Sudanese court sentenced his pregnant wife to death when she refused to recant her Christian faith, her husband told CNN he feels helpless.

“I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do,” Daniel Wani told CNN on Thursday. “I’m just praying.”

This week a Khartoum court convicted his wife, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith.

Ibrahim is Christian, her husband said. But the court considers her to be Muslim because her father was.

The court also convicted her of adultery and sentenced her to 100 lashes because her marriage to a Christian man is considered void under Sharia law.

The court gave her until Thursday to recant her Christian faith, something she refused to do, according to her lawyer.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, a sheikh told the court “how dangerous a crime like this is to Islam and the Islamic community,” said attorney Mohamed Jar Elnabi, who’s representing Ibrahim.

“I am a Christian,” Ibrahim fired back, “and I will remain a Christian.”

Her legal team says it plans to appeal the verdict, which drew swift condemnation from human rights organizations around the world.

In the meantime, Ibrahim, who is eight months’ pregnant, remains in prison with her 20-month-old son.

“She is very strong and very firm. She is very clear that she is a Christian and that she will get out one day,” Elnabi told CNN from Sudan.

Ibrahim was born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left when she was 6 years old, and Ibrahim was raised by her mother as a Christian. However, because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her to be the same, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

The case, her lawyer said, started after Ibrahim’s brother filed a complaint against her, alleging that she had gone missing for several years and that her family was shocked to find she had married a Christian man.

A family divided

The court’s ruling leaves a family divided, with Ibrahim behind bars and her husband struggling to survive, Elnabi said. Police blocked Wani from entering the courtroom on Thursday, Elnabi said. Lawyers appealed to the judge, but he refused, Elnabi said. Wani uses a wheelchair and “totally depends on her for all details of his life,” Elnabi said.

“He cannot live without her,” said the lawyer.

The couple’s son is also having a difficult time in prison.

“He is very affected from being trapped inside a prison from such a young age,” Elnabi said. “He is always getting sick due to lack of hygiene and bugs.”

Ibrahim is having a difficult pregnancy, the lawyer said. A request to send her to a private hospital was denied “due to security measures.”

There also is the question of the timing of a potential execution.

In past cases involving pregnant or nursing women, the Sudanese government waited until the mother weaned her child before executing any sentence, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide spokeswoman Kiri Kankhwende.

Rights groups, governments ask for compassion

Amnesty International describes Ibrahim as a prisoner of conscience.

“The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered,” Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher, said in a statement. ‘Adultery’ and ‘apostasy’ are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of ‘most serious crimes’ in relation to the death penalty. It is a flagrant breach of international human rights law,” the researcher said.

Katherine Perks with the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studiessaid the verdict goes against Sudan’s “own Constitution and commitments made under regional and international law.”

“Meriam has been convicted solely on account of her religious convictions and personal status,” she said.

Foreign embassies in Khartoum are urging the government there to reverse course.

“We call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution,” the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Netherlands said in a statement.

“We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms. Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” it read.

‘Egregious violations of freedom of religion

Attempts to contact Sudan’s justice minister and foreign affairs minister about the Ibrahim case were unsuccessful.

Sudan is one of the most difficult countries in the world to be a Christian, according to international religious freedom monitors.

Under President Omar al-Bashir, the African nation “continues to engage in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its 2014 report.

The country imposes Sharia law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike and punishes acts of “indecency” and “immorality” by floggings and amputations, the commission said.

“Conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death, suspected converts to Christianity face societal pressures, and government security personnel intimidate and sometimes torture those suspected of conversion,” said the commission, whose members are appointed by Congress and the president.

The Sudanese government has arrested Christians for spreading their faith, razed Christian churches and confiscated Christians’ property, the commission said.

Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has called Sudan one of the worst offenders of religious rights, counting it among eight “countries of particular concern.”

“The government at times enforced laws against blasphemy and defaming Islam,” the State Department said in its most recent report on religious freedom, from 2012.

The State Department’s other countries of concern, all of which impose strict penalties on Christians or other faiths, are: Myanmar (also known as Burma), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Among all religious groups, Christians are the most likely to be persecuted worldwide, according to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center.

Between June 2006 and December 2012, Christians were harassed by governments in 151 countries, Pew reported. Islam was second, with 135 countries. Together, Christians and Muslims make up half of the world’s population, Pew noted.

Lawyer says he’s gotten a death threat

Elnabi says he got a death threat a day before the controversial court hearing, with an anonymous caller telling him to pull out of representing Ibrahim or risk attack.

“I feel very scared,” he said. “Since yesterday, I live in fear if I just hear a door open or a strange sound in the street.”

Still, the lawyer said he’ll continue representing Ibrahim.

“I could never leave the case. This is a matter of belief and principles,” he said. “I must help someone who is in need, even if it will cost me my life.”

As soon as we discover where people can register a protest against this barbaric judgement, Wellthisiswhatithink will post the details. If you happen to know, please tell us.

UPDATE We are indebted to Marian for providing us with this link to an Amnesty USA PDF which refers to the case and provides email addresses for the relevant Sudanese officials. We urge you to email them politely asking for the ruling to be reversed.

http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/uaa11814.pdf

Please share this story as widely as you can.

UPDATE It has been reported that Meriam has had her baby in prison, where her 22 month old is also living with her. Her husband was not allowed to attend the birth.

As a Christian on Easter Day, I saw this on a website, and I fell to thinking. Especially because the final line on the poster I saw, underneath the hands, said, forcefully and somewhat cynically, “So don’t tell me about the power of prayer.”

I was confronted. Made to think. So good on whoever devised the poster, rather agressive though it was. We all need to be made to think, at Easter-time more than ever. An aside to my religious friends: atheists have their messages for us, too.

But, of course, its core proposition is unfair.

When religious people pray, we frequently ask for other things other than peace, an end to violence, an end to sadness and despair, and end to hunger, a fair sharing of the world’s resources, and so on.

In fact, generally, being only human, we are usually asking for messes that we have created in our own personal lives to get cleaned up, or for health and happiness, or even for wealth.

And sometimes, because we ask for things we don’t really need, and as God knows this, then sometimes his answer is therefore silence, or, simply, “No”.

So I cut the bottom line of the poster off. And this Easter Day, when Christians celebrate the simple but astounding belief that death is not the end of life, but rather the beginning, I would like us all to consider that, if we are to spend 10 minutes praying, then we need to spend them praying for others, other than ourselves.

And we then need to spend an equal amount of time, or more, campaigning against the evils of this world. In Jesus’s name, and in the name of our common humanity.

Because if Jesus of Nazareth was anything, he was an agitator. Knowing more than any man before or since how the world could be, he refused to accept the world as it was. He refused to accept violence, and hatred, and selfishness, and pomp and ceremony, and misrule and exploitation of the poor, the weak, the persecuted.

So spend time on your knees, by all means. But spend an equal time or more arguing with our fellows for what Jesus taught us.

Yes, Christians need to get into Church more often, but also to get out of Church more often, into the community. That might be as simple as speaking to friends or work colleagues. Not about how much we’d like to see them in Church, but how much we’d like to see more of Jesus in ourselves, and in them.

That way, we may repair some of the damage done to Jesus’s Church by scandal, selfishness, greed, and pomposity.

And on the need to heal the world, all Christians can agree. The religious and the secular can agree. Christians and Muslims and Jews and Janes and Buddhists can agree. That would be a good start. It might even lead us to heaven on earth.

I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen it wreak incredible, mystifying, astounding and inexplicable things. Not once, but often.

But I believe in the power of people modelling Christ much more.

obama in church

Obviously a Muslim. You can tell. Aren't his eyes a bit too close together?

More than half – you heard that right, more than HALF – of likely Republican voters in Mississippi say they think President Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Fifty-two percent said that Obama practiced Islam, while just 12 percent said he was a Christian. Thirty-six percent said they were not – really – not sure.

Obama, whose father and stepfather both came from Muslim backgrounds, is, however, a practicing Christian and was a member of Trinity United Church in Chicago before he was president. Indeed, his membership of that Church was frequently criticised by – yes – Republicans, because of the nature of the sermons preached there.

The poll, conducted by telephone of 656 likely Republican voters in Mississippi on March 10 and 11, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

In Alabama, the same poll found that 45 percent of likely Republican voters believed Obama to be a Muslim and 14 percent said they considered him a Christian.

The group conducted the polling in advance of the Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, which will be held on Tuesday.

On the left, an apparently typical southern Republican voter. On the right, an alien captured yesterday in Jackson, Mississippi. You be the judge.

Well, thinking about it, I think more than half of intending Republican voters in the deep south are obviously aliens.

I have no reason for believing this whatsoever, of course, just bigoted blind opinion, but I ask you to look at the evidence. I just think they clearly bear no relation to what I understand as even minimally educated adult humans.

Accordingly, I demand that they should all produce birth certificates before being allowed to vote. Before being allowed to leave home, unattended, actually. And those certificates should need to be stamped “tested: human”, not just identify where they’re from.

I repeat: I have no evidence for this point of view, but if I say it often enough, and with enough faux indignation, then obviously people will come to believe it.

Next week: your fearless reporter reveals the truth. “Rick Santorum is actually the anti-Christ”.*

*We have no evidence for this whatsoever, either, it’s just a really fun thought. Spread it around.

Meanwhile, in case any Republicans care to argue that Obama really is a Muslim, they might like to consider his words from 2007, regarding his enthusiasm for Christianity.

“Around this time that some pastors I was working with came up to me and asked if I was a member of a church. “If you’re organizing churches,” they said, “it might be helpful if you went to church once in a while.” And I thought, “Well, I guess that makes sense.”  

So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright deliver a sermon called “The Audacity of Hope.” And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.  

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn’t fall out in church, as folks sometimes do. The questions I had didn’t magically disappear. The skeptical bent of my mind didn’t suddenly vanish. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works.”

Barack Obama, June 23rd, 2007