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Sudan judge hands out death sentence to Christian woman

KHARTOUM--A Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom.

Born to a Muslim father, the woman was convicted under the Islamic Sharia Law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is eight months pregnant and married to a Christian national of South Sudan, which separated in 2011, human rights activists say.

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father's Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.

Khalifa also sentenced Ishag to 100 lashes for “adultery.” Under Sudan's interpretation of Sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.

Ishag reacted without emotion when Abbas delivered the verdict at a court in the Khartoum district of Haj Yousef.

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