Challenge to the Legality Of Apostasy Convictions In Sudan

The lawyers in Sudan representing Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian mother whose death sentence for apostasy was overturned in June 2014, are planning to take her case to the country’s Constitutional Court.

Meriam’s lawyers intend to challenge the constitutionality of convictions for apostasy, according to rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

It is illegal in Sudan to convert from Islam to Christianity. Sudanese law follows the Islamic teaching that one’s religion is legally determined by the religion of one’s father. Meriam was tried as an apostate because the law recognised her father’s religion, Islam, as hers, even though she was raised as a Christian by her mother. This also meant that her marriage to a Christian man was considered illegal, as Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying Christian men, in accordance with sharia law, which is a main source of legislation in Sudan.

Meriam’s legal team will use article 38 of Sudan’s constitution to challenge the Sudanese laws on the grounds that the 2005 interim constitution guarantees religious freedom and states that, “no person shall be coerced to adopt such faith, that he/she does not believe in”. If the Constitutional Court were to decide that penalising apostasy is unconstitutional, it could open the way to full freedom of religion for Sudanese Muslims who wish to change their religion.

Since representing Meriam, the director of the Justice Centre for Advocacy and Legal Consultancy and his colleagues have received death threats from Muslim extremists, who accused them of being un-Islamic for supporting Meriam and challenging Sudan’s apostasy laws. They have also been intimidated by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

Amos 5 vs 24: But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream., Barnabas Aid

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