EU religious leaders call on Sudan to release Meriam Yahya Ibrahim

2014-06-12 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A minute's silence for the victims of the attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24 and a call for Sudan to urgently release Meriam Ibrahim the Sudanese Christian who has been condemned to death for ‘apostasy’, marked the beginning of the 10th Summit of Religious Leaders at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.

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The summit gathers Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and representatives of other denominations from across the Union together with politicians to discuss the questions related to the future of Europe and its social dimension.

In the statement the leaders noted “Freedom of Religion and belief is a universal human right that is valued highly by the European Union and needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone”.

In late 2013 Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, daughter of an Ethiopian Christian mother and Sudanese Muslim father was accused of adultery by her father's side of the family. The  apostasy accusation was added in December 2013. As the father left the family when Meriam Ibrahim was six years old, she was raised as a Christian. She married a SudaneseAmerican. The verdict at the court of first instance was delivered on 12 May 2014, giving  Meriam Ibrahim three days to renounce Christianity.

On 15 May, the verdict was  reconfirmed as Meriam Ibrahim chose not to convert to Islam. On 27 May  she gave  birth to a baby girl at the prison clinic. She is imprisoned along with her 20-month-old son.  On 5 May her file was successfully transferred to the Appeal Court.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx led the delegation of the Catholic Church, included Professor Margaret S. Archer, head of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

In the light of the results of the European elections, the growing Euro-scepticism and the economic crisis, as well as the attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels a few days ago, the participants discussed questions related to the future of Europe and its social dimension.

For Cardinal Marx, the EU can only regain the trust of the citizens, if it brings concrete solutions to current problems and challenges, such as unemployment, climate change, migration, or the negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP). "If the EU proposes concrete solutions, it will be better accepted," said Cardinal Marx.

Quoting Jean Monnet he said that "a united Europe should be a contribution to a better world in all activities of the Union".

Statement on Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a Sudanese

believer sentenced to death for apostacy

 

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso,

the President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy and

the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz

together with all religious leaders participating at this year's high-level meeting express their deepest dismay and concern with the fate of Mrs Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to a hundred lashes and sentenced to death by hanging on charges of apostasy and adultery. She recently gave birth to a baby girl while in prison.

The above mentioned Presidents of EU institutions as well as all religious leaders present at the high-level meeting which include Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, underline Sudan's international obligation to protect the freedom of religion and belief and unanimously call upon the responsible Sudanese authorities and appeal courts to revoke this inhumane verdict and release Mrs Meriam with the utmost urgency.

The participants in today's meeting welcome the fact that the Court of Appeal has accepted the appeal and demand that the Sudanese government – in line with universal human rights - to repeal any legal provisions that penalise or discriminate against individuals for their religious beliefs or for changing their religion or beliefs or for inducing others to change a religion or belief, especially when cases of apostasy, heterodoxy, or conversion are punishable by death.

This is in line with Sudan being privy to the UN charter on Human Rights.

Freedom of Religion and belief is a universal human right that is valued highly by the European Union and needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone. To underline the Union's strong commitment to the protection of freedom of religion and belief, the European Union in June 2013 adopted Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.

Background

In late 2013 Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, daughter of an Ethiopian Christian mother and Sudanese Muslim father was accused of adultery by her father's side of the family. The apostasy accusation was added in December 2013. As the father left the family when Meriam Ibrahim was six years old, she was raised as a Christian. She married a SudaneseAmerican. The verdict at the court of first instance was delivered on 12 May 2014, giving

Meriam Ibrahim three days to renounce Christianity. On 15 May 2014, the verdict was reconfirmed as Meriam Ibrahim chose not to convert to Islam. On 27 May 2014 she gave birth to a baby girl at the prison clinic. She is imprisoned along with her 20-month-old son.

On 5 May her file was successfully transferred to the Appeal Court

(From archive of Vatican Radio)