(VOP) A 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for her religious views has given birth to a baby girl. Her husband and legal team have not been allowed access to the young mother at Omdurman Women’s Prison, where she is being held along with her 20-month-old son. Amnesty International said it had no information on her condition as yet.
After her father, a Muslim deserted the family when she was only 6 years old and absent most of her life. Her Ethiopian mother raised Meriam in the Christian faith as a Christian.
On May 11th, Ibrahim was charged and convicted of apostasy and adultery. A Khartoum court sentencing her to death by hanging on May 15 when she refused to recant her faith in Christ and return to Islam. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for committing adultery with Daniel Wani, her husband. The marriage to her husband, a South Sudanese-born Christian man is considered invalid under Sudan’s Islamic Shari’a law.
It has been reported that Ibrahim has been constantly restrained in shackles in her cell since her sentencing, a practice commonly used on prisoners who have been sentenced to death. Inhumane treatment for a pregnant woman about to give birth.
Ibrahim will be allowed to nurse her baby for two years before the death sentence is carried out. After she recovers from childbirth, the 100 lashes will be carried out. Pray she will not have to endure this horrific and cruel punishment.
Her lawyers have confirmed that an appeal has been filed and said that they are ready to take the case to Sudan’s Supreme Court and Constitutional Court if the appeal proves unsuccessful.
The sentence has sparked international outcry. US senators are urging secretary of state John Kerry to personally intervene on Ibrahim’s behalf and offer her asylum.
The UK government calls the sentence “barbaric”, while UN human rights experts described the conviction as “outrageous”, saying the right to marry and start a family was a fundamental human right.
An outpouring of public sympathy for the young Christian woman encouraged more than 660,000 people to sign a petition by Amnesty International calling for her immediate release.
Amnesty says treating adultery and apostasy as criminal offences is inconsistent with international human rights law.
Sudan has a predominantly Muslim population, but also has a Christian minority, primarily in it’s southern region.
Executions for apostasy are rare. Many of these charges have been dropped. Convictions have been overturned after a recanting their faith. No human being should be sentenced to death for their religious faith, convert or not. We should stand up for the religious right of all citizens, worldwide.
Please keep our sister in Christ in your prayers. May the Lord bless her with peace, strength and steadfast faith. May the persecutors have a change of heart and release not only her, but her two young children. May they be reunited as a family to freely worship Christ. In the holy name of Jesus.
Breaking: PAKISTAN – Asia Bibi’s case disappears from the list of hearings, the possibility of an appeal diminishes
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – The first hearing of the appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, will not take place today, 27th May, and no one knows if and when it will be scheduled again. This was reported to Fides Agency by the lawyers engaged in the defense team of women. Speaking to Fides Agency, the lawyer, Naeem Shakir, one of the lawyers defending Asia Bibi, does not hide his dismay: “The case was in the list of hearings scheduled for today. Then it suddenly disappeared. We do not know why. I can only say that what is happening is not normal”.
The lawyers are waiting for an official reason from the administration of the High Court of Lahore to explain the serious anomaly which results in the lack of justice for an innocent victim.
“At this point we do not know when and if the case will be examined” they explain. Since February the process has been postponed 4 times for various reasons and the trail has never started.
According to observers, the judges of the Court of Appeal do not want to take responsibility to examine the case for fear of retaliation by radical Islamic groups. In the past, judges who acquitted Christians for blasphemy were killed.
As Fides learns, bitterness and disappointment can be felt even among Asia’s family members. In the coming days – the woman’s lawyers say – the woman, who is in the women’s prison in Multan, will be informed on the latest developments in the case that concerns her.
Asia Noreen Bibi was condemned for blasphemy on June 19, 2009, pursuant to Article 295c of the Penal Code, by the Muslim Mullah, Qari Muhammad Sallam. After a trial before the Court of First Instance in Nankana Sahib, Asia was sentenced to death on November 8, 2010. The Appeal was filed before the Lahore High Court on November 11, 2010. But, for religious reasons and political pressures, only four years after the case has been taken into consideration. Today, the ongoing litany of posponements has not yet allowed the holding of the first hearing. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/05/2014)
Please keep our dear sister, Asia and her suffering family in your prayers.
The Nigerian Military is claiming the whereabouts of the nearly 300 school girls kidnapped by the Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram have been located, but are unable to rescue them as it may endanger their lives.
The country’s Chief of Defense, Air Marshal Alex Badeh spoke to thousands of organized demonstrators who had been brought in on buses and marched to Defense Ministry headquarters in Abuja. He said Nigeria’s military fears using force to try to free them could get them killed.
He told demonstrators supporting the much criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls. But he added, “we can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”
He refused to comment on the location of the girls when asked by reporters. He asked the demonstrators,
“We want our girls back. I can tell you we can do it. Our military can do it. But where they are held, can we go with force?”
The crowd yelled back, “No!”
“If we go with force what will happen?” he asked.
“They will die,” they replied.
He told them, “Nobody should come and say the Nigerian military does not know what it is doing. We know what we are doing.”
Soldiers in the military have claimed they are force to go to dangerous areas undermanned, while trying to overcome the radical group laden with high tech weaponry. Earlier this month, some of them fired on the car of a commanding officer coming to pay his respects to 12 soldiers who the soldiers felt were unnecessarily killed by the insurgents in a ambush.
The CDS refused to give details that the military would not use force in its efforts to secure the release of the abducted girls, but assured that this war on terror would be won by the military. “The President has empowered us to do the work”, he said.
Badeh also confirmed that the military was recovering arms and ammunition that are alien to the Armed forces “which shows that people from outside were supporting the insurgents”.
Believing it was Al-Qaeda in West Africa, the CDS said: “I know people from outside Nigeria are in this war, they are fighting us, they want to destabilise us. But this is our country and some people in this country are standing with the forces of darkness; we must salvage our country, we must bring sanity back into our nation”.
Coordinator of the group, Chidi Omeje said the group represents the ordinary Nigerians on the streets who understand that no nation can stand on its own without a strong military.
He stated that the group was spurred into action because of the myriads of media attacks championed by mischievous politicians and some interest groups that have ulterior motives.
“We are not politicians or religious bigots and we appreciate our military and we know they are doing their best. We are trying to tell the leadership of the Nigerian military that ordinary Nigerians are behind them, and appreciate them”.
While efforts are being made to secure the release of the schoolgirls, Boko Haram continues to carry out deadly attacks in the northern part of the country.
On May 18, an explosion in Kano, while police averted another devastating bomb blast in the city the next day. Nearly 80people were killed in two bomb blasts in the center of Jos, the Plateau State capital on May 20th. And another bomb blast on Saturday close to a football center, University of Jos where three people died.
Please pray for Nigeria and our Nigerian brothers and sisters. Pray for the rescue and safety of the mainly Christians girls abducted from Chibok, along with many others who are never covered by the main stream media!
A recent New York Times article exemplifies why the Times simply cannot be trusted. Written by one David Kirkpatrick and titled “Vow of Freedom of Religion Goes Unkept in Egypt,” the article disingenuously interprets general truths in an effort to validate its thesis.
Much of this is done by omitting relevant facts that provide needed context. For example, Kirkpatrick makes Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the military—widely recognized as the heroes of the June 2013 revolution that toppled former President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood—appear responsible for the poor state of religious freedom in Egypt, when in fact the military has no authority over the judicial system, which is independent.
Even so, there is much evidence that Egypt, while far from becoming a Western-style democracy, is on a better path—certainly than under the Muslim Brotherhood. But these are seldom mentioned in the NYT report. Most recently, for example, the military-backed government jailed a popular Islamic scholar for contempt against Christianity—something that never happened under Morsi, when clerics were regularly and openly condemning and mocking Christians.
Similarly, Sheikh Yassir Burhami, the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement, is facing prosecution for contempt against Christianity for stating that Easter is an “infidel” celebration and that Muslims should not congratulate Christians during Easter celebrations. Previously under Morsi, Burhami was free to say even worse—including issuing a fatwa banning taxi drivers from transporting Christian priests to their churches.
Some positive developments are twisted to look as attacks on religious freedom. Kirkpatrick complains that “The new government has tightened its grip on mosques, pushing imams to follow state-approved sermons,” as if that is some sort of infringement on their rights, when in fact, mosques are the primary grounds where Muslims are radicalized to violence, especially against religious minorities like Coptic Christians. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of attacks on churches and Christians occur on Friday, the one day of the week when Muslims congregate in mosques and listen to sermons.
“State-approved sermons” are much more moderate and pluralistic in nature and the government’s way of keeping radicals and extremists from mosque podiums.
If Kirkpatrick truly cared about the religious freedom of Egypt’s minorities, he would laud this move by the government, instead of trying to portray it as an infringement of the rights of the radicals to “freely” preach hate.
Another positive development overlooked by the article is that Egypt’s native church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, was involved in drafting the new, post-Morsi constitution, and was allowed to voice its opinion over controversial Article Two, which deals with how influential Islamic Sharia will be in governing society. The Church accepted a more moderate version than the previous one articulated under Morsi, which the Church as well as millions of Egyptian Muslims, were against due to its draconian, Islamist nature.
Speaking of the Copts—who are Egypt’s litmus test concerning religious freedom—a closer examination of them alone demonstrates the disingenuous nature of Kirkpatrick’s observations.
Early in the report, and in the context of stating that “the new military-backed government has fallen back into patterns of sectarianism that have prevailed here for decades,” Kirkpatrick asserts that “Prosecutors continue to jail Coptic Christians …. on charges of contempt of religion.”
Interestingly, while this suggests Christians are being jailed under the current government on charges of blasphemy, a close reading reveals that that is not the case. Rather, Kirkpatrick is referring to the many Copts who were incarcerated under Morsi’s reign, some of whom still remain in jail.
Kirkpatrick seems to think that those not yet freeing Christians—due to the chaos it would likely cause among the already highly aggrieved Islamist/Salafi population—are as religiously intolerant as those who threw them in prison in the first place.
Of course, back then under Morsi, when the full extent of “legal” persecution of Christian Copts in the context of “blasphemy” was revealed, the NYT and Kirkpatrick were remarkably silent.
The dissembling continues. Writes Kirkpatrick: “Many Coptic Christians and other religious minorities cheered the military takeover because they feared the Muslim Brotherhood, a religiously exclusive movement whose leaders have a history of denigrating non-Muslims” (emphasis added).
Christians did not “fear” the Brotherhood because their leaders have a long “history of denigrating non-Muslims,” but rather because their leaders have a long history of inciting violence and hate against Christians, leading to countless attacks and atrocities on Copts and their churches over the decades.
Under Morsi, Coptic Christianity’s most symbolic church and papal residence, St Mark Cathedral, was savagely attacked by an Islamist mob, aided and abetted by state security. Then, Coptic Pope Tawadros said that Morsi had “promised to do everything to protect the cathedral but in reality we don’t see this…. We need action not only words… There is no action on the ground… This flagrant assault on a national symbol, the Egyptian church, has never been subjected to this in 2,000 years.”
Kirkpatrick also fails to inform his readership that due to Muslim Brotherhood incitement against the Copts for “daring” to participate in the June revolution against Morsi, in “retaliation,” some 80 churches in Egypt were bombed, burned, or simply attacked by Brotherhood supporters.
Also left unsaid by the NYT is that it was Sisi who pledged that the armed forces would rebuild and renovate the destroyed churches. According to church officials, the army will be done renovating and rebuilding 16 of the churches destroyed by the Brotherhood by the end of June, at which point they will begin phase two of renovating the rest of churches.
Far from pointing this out, Kirkpatrick implies Sisi is indifferent to the Copts, writing for example that “unlike a rival presidential candidate, [Sisi] declined to attend Mass” at the Coptic cathedral during Easter. The fact is, due to Brotherhood assassination attempts—which the rival presidential candidate need not worry from—Sisi has had to decline many public events, not just Easter.
From here one can understand why Kirkpatrick’s next assertion makes perfect sense, even as he offers it with some puzzlement: “But the complaints about continued sectarianism have not deterred church leaders from firmly supporting Mr. Sisi as their protector against worse treatment by the Muslim majority. The Coptic pope, Tawadros II, has hailed Mr. Sisi as overwhelmingly popular, ‘a competent patriot’ on ‘an arduous mission,’ and ‘the one who rescued Egypt.’”
In short, when it comes to religious freedom and tolerance, the current government, although far from perfect, is also better than its Brotherhood predecessor. Hence why, not only the Coptic Church, but the majority of Egypt’s millions of Christians, support Sisi.
Needless to say, that is not the impression that Kirkpatrick gives, as he quotes an unknown Copt calling the pope’s statements which were supportive of Sisi “stupid and myopic.”
Thus it is only in the most general of ways that Kirkpatrick’s NYT article is accurate—in that, yes, religious freedom is still very problematic in Egypt, especially for minorities such as the Copts. It is true that police and security often do little to protect the Copts and their churches from Islamists–but this is partially because police stations are also under attack. Pope Tawadros recently confirmed that, in light of the circumstances, the police and government in general are doing better than under Morsi.
Overlooked and ignored are the true culprits of radicalization—the Muslim Brotherhood and allied Islamists, who, through the mosques and satellite stations, have been radicalizing Egypt for decades. It will take a long time, if ever, to eradicate their influence, but the post-Brotherhood government is a first step in the right direction—despite the NYT’s nonstop propaganda to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood and sometimes even al-Qaeda.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a CBN News contributor. Ibrahim’s dual-background — born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East — has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.