FaithWorld

Sudan summons U.S., South Sudan envoys in row over Christian convert

June 25, 2014
(St. Matthew's Cathedral, Khartoum)

(St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Khartoum, 5 October 2013/Shmyg)

Sudan has summoned the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors over the new detention of a Christian convert who was trying to fly to the United States with her family after being released from death row, the state’s top security service said on Wednesday.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was freed on Monday after an appeals court canceled the death sentence imposed for having converted from Islam to marry her Christian husband, after the government came under what it called unprecedented international pressure.

But she was detained again on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children – deepening the diplomatic wrangle over her case.

Sudan does not recognize her as a South Sudanese citizen because, despite lifting her sentence, it does not recognize her marriage to a Christian, something not allowed under the Islamic laws applied in Sudan, where most people are Sunni Muslims.

South Sudan, with a majority Christian population, became independent from Sudan after a public vote in 2011 that ended years of civil war between the two states.

“The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy and carrying an American visa,” Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services’ media department said on Facebook, referring to Ibrahim by her Muslim name. “The Sudanese authorities considered (the action) a criminal violation, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors.” Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, told Reuters Ibrahim was charged with forging the travel papers. Forging a document is punishable by up to five years in prison.

On Wednesday, she was still being held at a Khartoum police station where she had spent the night with her family, who refused to go without her, Mostafa said.

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