13th June, 2014

Dozens of human rights and faith groups began demonstrating on Thursday in front of the White House for the release of Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old mother of two sentenced to death for apostasy in Sudan.

Before her execution by hanging, she is to receive 100 lashes for her marriage to a South Sudanese Christian. "Because the Shariah court in Khartoum considers her a Muslim, it does not recognize her marriage to Daniel Wani, who is an American citizen, originally from South Sudan," said Faith JH McDonnell, an official of the influential Institute on Religion and Democracy.

McDonell, who directs the Institute's Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, said there had been a delay in the sentencing. "The court will wait until her newborn baby, Maya, has been weaned. Meriam will then be killed, according to Shariah, for the crime of refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and "revert" to Islam."

Thursday's demonstration, backed by 37 advocacy groups, will be followed up the next day at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC. Both rallies were scheduled to begin at 10am local time.

The rallies come days after an appeals court in Khartoum agreed to look in to the case again amid international pressure. During the deliberations Meriam Ibrahim as well as her 20-month-old son Martin and newborn daughter Maya, will remain incarcerated in the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison.

Organizers told BosNewsLife that the rallies also come amid criticism that US President Barack Obama's administration has allegedly failed to take action in the case.

"It is completely unacceptable for the United States to stand passively by as the wife and children of a US citizen sit on death row because of her Christian beliefs," said Issaac Six, advocacy director of rights group International Christian Concern (ICC).

Meriam's husband is a resident of New Hampshire and a US citizen, making both of his children US citizens by default. The US State Department, however, is currently requesting a DNA test from Daniel to prove his paternity for both children.

The additional protest planned at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC, follows similar rallies in front of Sudanese missions in several capitals, including London, Beirut and Ottawa, organisers said.

"We are sending a powerful message to (President) Omar al-Bashir and the government of Sudan that the world has not forgotten Meriam, and that we will continue to fight for this innocent woman's release for as long as it takes," Six told BosNewsLife.

~ BosNewsLife