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Justice

Sudanese woman on death row gives birth

A Sudanese woman sitting on death row has given birth. The 27-year-old was sentenced to be hanged for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Little over a week after receiving the death sentence, Sudanese inmate Meriam Ibrahim Ishag gave birth to a girl. The death row inmate, jailed for refusing to deny her Christian faith and convert to Islam, was eight months pregnant.

The woman's husband, Daniel Wani, saw them on Tuesday. In addition to his weekly permitted visits to the prison, located in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, Wani has not yet received special permission for an additional visit.

"I'm disappointed really," Wani told news agency AFP. "We weren't able to speak. There [was] a guard sitting there beside us."

The 27-year-old mother would continue to care for the newborn for the next two years, according to news agency DPA. Rights activists have told reporters that the inmate has already been caring for her 20-month old son in prison.

The case emerged last year when relatives of her father's family complained that she had been born Muslim but was married to a Christian man.

On May 15, a Sudanese court handed down the death sentence to the pregnant woman. Ishag was raised as a Christian in Sudan, where Sharia, or Islamic law, has applied since the early 1990s. Judge Abbas Mohammed al-Khalifa said that she would be hanged for not declaring Islam to be the religion of her birth.

One of Ibrahim Ashag's lawyers, Al-Shareef Ali al-Shareef Mohammed, has vowed to appeal the sentence before Sudan's constitutional court if necessary. According to Mohammed, Ishag's Muslim father had left her mother when she was a child and her mother - an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia - had raised her as a Christian.

Under Sudanese President Omar Bashir, sharia prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims. Children must follow their father's religion.

kms/jm (AFP, dpa)

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