Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today introduced legislation condemning the death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman accused of apostasy, and calling for her immediate and unconditional release from prison, where she remains with her 20 month-old son.
Ibrahim, also eight months pregnant, was sentenced to death for allegedly leaving Islam after authorities were made aware of her marriage to a Christian man.
The resolution reaffirms the U.S. government’s commitment to ending religious discrimination, calling for the inclusion of religious freedom and respect for international human rights during the drafting of Sudan’s new constitution.
"The idea of imprisoning, let alone flogging or killing, a pregnant mother for her religious beliefs, or those of her husband, is an affront to the Sudanese constitution, international norms, and basic human dignity,” said Menendez. “Sudan must recommit itself to upholding its own domestic and international obligations, including respecting the right of Ms. Ishag and all Sudanese to worship as they so chose."
“I am disgusted and appalled by the inhumane verdict Ms. Ibrahim has received, simply for refusing to recant her Christian faith. This is yet another example of the kind of religious intolerance and persecution that has no place in any civilized, free society,” said Rubio. “No one should have to live in a world where they fear for their life simply because of religion.
“This legislation strives to encourage religious freedom within Sudan by ensuring that the new constitution includes protections for such fundamental rights, which would be a significant step toward a more democratic future for the people of Sudan,” added Rubio. “I also commend Ms. Ibrahim’s courage in refusing to renounce her Christianity, and I encourage her to remain steadfast. The world condemns her verdict and will stand by her in her moment of need.”
“Prosecuting and sentencing to death someone — let alone a pregnant woman — because she refused to recant her religious faith is abhorrent and utterly inhuman,” said Coons. “Instead of persecuting citizens, governments should be protecting them and their right to hold and change their religious beliefs. The Sudanese Government made a commitment when it signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It should release Ms. Ibrahim Ishag and her son from jail and reject these apostasy laws.”
A PDF of the legislation is available here.
The resolution resolves that the Senate: