Washington, May 15 (IANS): A 27-year-old Sudanese woman was Thursday facing death sentence if she refused to renounce her Christian religion.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was convicted by a Khartoum court this week of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith, Amnesty International said Wednesday, a day before the expected ruling. The court considers her to be Muslim, CNN reported.
She is eight months pregnant and currently in custody with her 20-month-old son, according to Amnesty International.
The woman, according to the rights group, was also convicted of adultery because her marriage to a Christian man was considered void under Sharia law.
"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.
The researcher said "'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 flagrant breach of international human rights law," the researcher added.
Foreign embassies in Khartoum are urging the government there to reverse the court decision.
"We call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one's right to change one's faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution," the embassies of the US, Britain, Canada and Netherlands said in a joint statement.
"We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms. Meriam's case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people," it read.