The UN must act to save religious freedom

The West should unapologetically stand with those facing persecution for being Christian.

The West should unapologetically stand with those facing persecution for being Christian

It’s hard to imagine what must be going through the mind of Miriam Ibrahim right now.

Last month she was sentenced to 100 lashes and death by a Sudanese court on the charge of apostasy for renouncing her father’s Islamic faith and of adultery for marrying a Christian, Daniel Wani. This is despite the fact that she was raised as a Christian by her mother.

The condemnation from world leaders, especially our own prime minister, was forceful in response to a barbaric and cruel sentence. Indeed, such was the brutality that Miriam was forced to give birth in a prison cell whilst waiting to be executed.

At the beginning of this week it was reported that she was being freed. It’s hard to imagine, therefore, the stomach churning sickness that must have been felt when she and her husband were re-arrested  at an airport in Khartoum for allegedly having the wrong documentation needed to travel to the United States, despite them having valid visas for the US.

Sickening though the situation is, it is compounded by the understanding that if she does finally taste freedom, Miriam faces what in all likelihood will be a permanent death threat from her own family.

Commenting on her original release from the death sentence, a man who says he is Ibrahim’s brother, Al-Samani Al-Hadi, slammed the court’s decision and hinted at retribution. He explained:

“The family is unconvinced by the court’s decision. We were not informed by the court that she was to be released; this came as a surprise to us…The law has failed to uphold our rights. This is now an issue of honor. The Christians have tarnished our honor, and we will know how to avenge it.”

What is it that makes a court feel that a death sentence is legitimate for someone who peacefully decides to become a Christians rather then follow their father’s Islamic faith? What leads someone claiming to be Ibrahim’s brother to believe that it would be right to avenge the court’s decision and kill her for bringing shame on the family?

Never have the words of the book of Romans been so clearly on display where it reads:

“As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

With the UN Human Right’s Council currently in session, the world now has an invaluable opportunity to take a stand. To declare with one voice that cases such as that of Miriam Ibrahim cannot and will not be tolerated. That in a world where hope seems at such a premium, to deny people the chance to pursue their faith will be met with stiff actions from the international community – not just words.

Let us stand together as one and make clear that we in the West and other democratic nations stand shoulder to shoulder with those facing death for their faith and that we will not stay quiet.

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