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Save Meriam: save our sense of humanity

By Mal Fletcher - posted Monday, 2 June 2014

"Save Meriam" says the front-page banner headline in The Times this morning.

Almost the entire page is devoted to the story of the young mother who has just given birth to her second child whilst in chains in a Sudanese prison. Guards at the women's prison in Khartoum refused to release her whilst she gave birth to a daughter.

Meriam Ibrahim is 27 years of age. She already has a son living with her in prison while she awaits her execution, which will likely be carried out within two years.


Her crime? She refused to renounce the religious faith with which she grew up as the daughter of a Christian mother.

Meriam's father is a Muslim and according to the interpretation of the Koran favoured by Sudanese courts, she should consider herself a Muslim.

This despite the fact that she was raised a Christian - she lived with her mother - and has never professed to be anything else. She is married to a Christian man, Daniel Wani, an American citizen whose physical disability means that he would face huge difficulties in caring for his children were the court's ultimate sentence to be carried out.

The only reason the court has delayed the death penalty for two years is to allow Meriam time to nurse her child. If this was intended as a sign of the court's humanity, it has failed miserably.

Sudan professes, in its constitution no less, to protect freedom of religion. This pledge is obviously not worth the paper it is written on. International condemnation is the only thing even remotely likely to prevent Meriam's death.

Appalling, horrific, inhuman are all adjectives we might use to describe this atrocity, but 'unprecedented' should not be among them.


Figures published by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, show that religious persecution is on the rise throughout most of the world.

The report measured both institutional - i.e. government - restrictions on religious faith plus acts of social hostility perpetrated in the name of religion, between 2006 and 2009.

It found that restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose in 23 of the world's 198 countries - including a very small number of European nations. It decreased in only 12 countries and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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