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Senate approves Shaheen and Ayotte co-sponsored condemnation of woman's death sentence in Sudan

June 03. 2014 10:01PM

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a measure co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire that condemned the death sentence of a Sudanese woman with New Hampshire connections who has refused to renounce her Christian faith.

A Sudanese court imposed the sentence for Meriam Ibrahim after she refused to recant her Christian faith. The court found her guilty of apostasy, converting from Islam. Ibrahim was raised by her Christian mother, but under Sharia law she is considered to be a Muslim because her father was a Muslim. The charge is a capital offense under Sudanese law, but the severity of the sentence drew international outrage and forced pressure on the government.

Ibrahim, who was eight months pregnant when she was sentenced and has since given birth to a girl, is married to Daniel Wani, a Sudanese immigrant who is a U.S. citizen living in Manchester. Wani is in Sudan trying to free his wife and children.

On Saturday, the BBC reported that the Sudanese government has agreed to free Ibrahim, but she remained in prison Tuesday with her lawyer and family expressing skepticism about the possibility she will be released.

"No one should be persecuted for exercising the basic right of religious freedom and the Sudanese government’s sentencing was a gross violation of fundamental human rights." Shaheen, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This resolution clearly condemns the Sudanese government’s sentencing as inhumane and unjust, and I will continue to work through every avenue to secure Meriam’s release so her family can be reunited."

  Ayotte, a Republican, called for Ibrahim's immediate release.

  “This resolution strongly condemns Meriam Ibrahim’s death sentence, which is an abhorrent violation of the fundamental human right of religious liberty,” Ayotte said in a statement.

Union Leader staff reporter Mark Hayward contributed to this report.

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