The husband of Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly abandoning Islam, says his wife is standing by her faith despite possible execution.
“I know my wife. She's committed,” Daniel Wani told CNN May 30. “Even last week, they brought in Sheikhs and she told them: ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind’.”
Ibrahim, 27, gave birth to a baby girl in prison May 27 with heavy chains on her legs, Wani told BBC News. She and the baby are reportedly doing well.
She and her husband continue to hope for a successful legal appeal.
Ibrahim was imprisoned after a May 15 court ruling convicted her of apostasy from Islam and of adultery.
She is recognized as Muslim under Sudanese law because her father was Muslim. However, she was raised as a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her father abandoned the family.
Ibrahim and Wani married in 2011 in a Christian church. However, she was convicted of adultery because the law does not recognize marriages between Muslim women and Christian men.
The two were first arrested for adultery in September 2013, but released on bail.
Ibrahim faces 100 lashes for the adultery sentence, which will be carried out when she has recovered from the birth. Islamic law allows her up to two years to nurse the baby before the death sentence is carried out, the BBC reports.
The couple’s 20-month-old son is also living with his mother in the prison. His personality has changed “a lot,” said Wani, a U.S. citizen originally from what is now South Sudan.
“He used to be a happy boy. When I went there, he just looked at me. No smile,” he added. “Every time when I went there, he just wants to come home with me.”
Wani told CNN that his wife is “in a bad mood” and “frustrated.”
The case has caused international outcry, drawing condemnation from Members of Congress. The U.S. State Department said May 15 it is “deeply disturbed” by the death sentence and urged Sudan’s government to “respect the right to religious freedom.”
Wani, who uses a wheelchair, said the U.S. consul had a “very negative position” towards his wife’s situation. The consul was “very high handed” and “very, very rude,” he said, according to CNN.
He said the consul told him she didn’t have time for the case. He also voiced concern that Sudan’s law doesn’t recognize his children as his own, because he is Christian.
The situation has drawn strong criticism from those who say the U.S. should do more to put pressure on Sudan and offer a safe haven to Ibrahim and the two children.
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a co-chair of the U.S. Congress’ International Religious Freedom Caucus, called on the State Department to express to the Sudanese government that such a human rights violation “will be taken extremely seriously” and that Sudan must follow its obligations under international treaties.
Princeton professor Robert P. George, who heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has said that “(i)nternational attention to this case is critical to holding the Sudanese government accountable for its constitutional provisions and international commitments.”
Almost 300,000 people have signed a petition hosted by the Be Heard Project demanding Ibrahim’s release.
Despite the dire circumstances, Wani stressed his support for his wife.
“I’m standing by her to (the) end. Whatever she wants, I’ll stand by her,” he told CNN.