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Sudanese Woman Faces Death Sentence for Apostasy, Amnesty Says

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- A woman in Sudan risks the death penalty after refusing to renounce her Christian faith in favor of Islam, Amnesty International said, in a case that’s drawn criticism from the U.S. and U.K.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Sudanese Christian who’s eight months pregnant, was convicted of apostasy and adultery on May 11, London-based Amnesty said in a statement yesterday. The court in the capital, Khartoum, gave her three days to recant her faith with the next hearing due tomorrow, the group said. Apostasy can carry a death sentence under Sudanese law, it said.

Ibrahim “is a prisoner of conscience, convicted solely because of her religious beliefs and identity, and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Amnesty said.

The embassies of the U.S., U.K., Canada and the Netherlands in Khartoum expressed “deep concern” over the apostasy ruling in a joint statement published on the U.S. Embassy’s website yesterday. They urged Sudan’s government “to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs.”

Ibrahim, mother to a 20-month-old son, says she was raised as a Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was absent during her childhood, according to Amnesty. She was arrested and charged with adultery in August after a family member reportedly told Sudanese authorities of her marriage to a South Sudanese Christian. An apostasy charge was added in February when she said she was Christian, not Muslim.

Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman had his mobile phone switched off when Bloomberg News called seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Gridneff in Nairobi at igridneff@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net Michael Gunn

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