05/30/14

Meriam determined to stay a Christian, says her husband

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Daniel Wani and Meriam Ibrahimn at their marriage in 2011

Anna Dubuis
Last updated at 1:41PM, May 30 2014

The Christian husband of a Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to hang for marrying him spoke today of his turmoil a day after she gave birth while shackled to the floor of her prison cell.

Daniel Wani, an American citizen, was able to visit his wife, Meriam Ibrahim, 27, in Omdurman women’s prison, near Khartoum, after the arrival of their baby girl, named Maya.

This month Ms Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death for apostasy, the crime of renouncing Islam. The hanging was postponed for two years to allow her to nurse her baby in the prison together with her one-year-old son, Martin.

Ms Ibrahim, who was born to a Muslim father but brought up as a Christian by her mother, denies the charges.

Mr Wani, 27, said his wife was “frustrated” by her situation but was committed to maintaining that she was Christian.

He told CNN: “There is pressure on her from Muslim religious leaders that she should return to the faith. She said, ‘How can I return when I never was a Muslim? Yes my father was a Muslim, but I was brought up by my mother.’
” I know my wife. She’s committed. Even last week, they brought in sheikhs and she told them, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind’.”

Their marriage, which took place in 2011, has not been officially recognised, which means that their children are not officially recorded.

“An illegitimate marriage does not result in legally recognised offspring, which means that my son and the new baby are no longer mine,” he said.

As the worldwide outrage at the case intensifies, the couple hope that their lawyers will be able to overturn the court’s ruling.

Mr Wani said: “I’m hoping that, given the way people have come together around the world, which I want to thank them for, all the rights groups, all the broadcasters … it’s looking like it’s had an effect. Perhaps it will result in the judgment being overturned.”

He added: “I’m standing by her to the end. Whatever she wants, I’ll stand by her.”
Ms Ibrahim was arrested after a group of Muslims purporting to be her relatives filed a police report accusing her of disappearing and renouncing her religion.
She was first charged with adultery for marrying a Christian, but when she refused to recant her Christian faith the apostasy charge was added.

Mr Wani said: “These people filed charges claiming that she was their sister and filed a police report saying that she had disappeared.

“The police originally called for the case to be dismissed, but these people went back and added another charge, which is adultery, by saying she was their sister and a Muslim.

“It is illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man, therefore we were brought before the court.”