Ayotte and Shaheen Introduce Bill to Protect Christian Woman in Sudan
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today said legislation introduced by New Hampshire Senators Kelly Ayotte (R) and Jeanne Shaheen (D) to grant legal status to Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag reflects America’s long commitment to protect those facing religious and other persecution. Ibrahim has been sentenced to death in Sudan on charges of apostasy for marrying a Christian. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, immigrated to the United States and is now a citizen residing in Manchester, New Hampshire.
“Senators Ayotte and Shaheen should be applauded for their strong stand in favor of human rights and religious freedom,” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Lieberman. “There are many individuals fleeing religious and other persecution who face obstacles in our asylum system – including the asylum filing deadline, multi-year court backlogs and immigration detention. We need to reform our asylum system to help more individuals like Mariam receive protection in the United States.”
Despite her claims that she has been a practicing Christian her entire life, Ibrahim is considered Muslim by Sudan’s court. She has been convicted of apostasy and adultery due to her marriage to Wani, a Christian; under the Sudanese government’s interpretation of Sharia law, a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian. Ibrahim has been sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging, a sentence that has been postponed for two years while she nurses her newborn child. She has refused to renounce her Christianity and is now imprisoned in Khartoum. Sudan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states, “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”
“Around the world, those who are persecuted look to the United States as a beacon of hope,” said Lieberman. “Senators Ayotte and Shaheen have shown that America will not abandon its compassion or turn its back on those seeking protection from persecution.”