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Pregnant woman sentenced to death for marrying a Christian

SENTENCED TO DEATH: Mariam Yahya Ibrahim pictured on her wedding day with husband Daniel Wani

A PREGNANT Sudanese woman who converted to Christianity so she could marry a non-Muslim man has been sentenced to death.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, had been ordered to abandon her newly adopted faith and return to Islam, but during a sentencing hearing she was she proudly declared she was a Christian, sources say.

The mother-of-one, who will be killed after she gives birth to her second child, has also been charged with adultery for marrying a Christian man, which is illegal.

After the verdict her husband, Daniel Wani told CNN: “I'm so frustrated. I don't know what to do. I'm just praying.”

A government spokesman said the ruling could be appealed in a higher court.

Outside the court, around 50 people held up signs that read 'Freedom of Religion', while some Islamists celebrated the ruling, chanting 'God is Greatest.'

On February 7, Ms Ibrahim was arrested, with her 20-month-old son, and put in a women’s prison.

It is thought a relative had turned her in to the police for marrying a Christian.

According to the Sudan’s Public Order Criminal Code, she is a Muslim by default because she was born in Sudan. It is believed, however, that Ms Ibrahim was raised a Christian.

Though the new baby will be handed to Mr Wani after Ibrahim is killed, he is not allowed to care for their child, Martin, because he is a Christian.

Martin, who is almost two years old, is in prison with his mother. Mr Wani is not allowed to visit or see his son.

Young Sudanese university students have mounted a series of protests near Khartoum University in recent weeks asking for an end to human rights abuses, more freedoms and better social and economic conditions in the country.

The authorities decided on Sunday to close the university indefinitely.

Western embassies and Sudanese activists sharply condemned the accusations and called on the Sudanese Islamist-led government to respect freedom of faith.

Amnesty International describes Ibrahim as a prisoner of conscience.

"The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered," Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, said in a statement.

"'Adultery' and 'apostasy' are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of 'most serious crimes' in relation to the death penalty. It is a flagrant breach of international human rights law," the researcher said.

The Sudanese government has arrested Christians for spreading their faith, razed Christian churches and confiscated Christians' property, the commission said.

Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has called Sudan one of the worst offenders of religious rights, counting it among eight "countries of particular concern."

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