Letter to Secretary Kerry, re: Sudan’s sentencing of Mariam Ibrahim
On May 20, 2014, the ERLC delivered the following letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the May 15 sentencing of Mariam Ibrahim by a Sudanese court. Download a PDF of this letter on ERLC letterhead.
May 20, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
I write regarding the May 15, 2014 prosecution and sentencing of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim by a Sudanese court. As you are likely aware, Mariam has been sentenced to 100 lashes because of her marriage to a non-Muslim. This alone is cause to intervene on her behalf, but even more distressing is the court’s pronouncement of death because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith. She is presently eight months pregnant, caring for an infant child, and imprisoned in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison.
That this kind of tragedy occurs in Sudan is of little surprise. According to the State Department’s own International Religious Freedom Report, Sudan is a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), a status it has deserved every year since 1999. In Sudan, the government continues to be a direct perpetrator of egregious human rights violations; and non-government actors persecute minorities with impunity. Nevertheless, Mariam’s sentencing is a particularly vivid incident that exposes the barbarous results of blasphemy laws and their violation of religious liberty, a human right affirmed by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The use of state power to enforce belief of any religion–Islam, Christianity or otherwise–is outside the authority of any government. That such an arrangement culminates in the arrest, torture, and execution of an otherwise law-abiding pregnant woman is abhorrent and should be condemned outrightly by the leadership of the United States government.
As our own Baptist forbearers were persecuted by civil authorities for defying state authority over religious matters, we must again reassert on behalf of Ms. Ibrahim that faith, by definition, cannot be coerced or legislated and that no person should be imprisoned or executed for religious belief.
I encourage you to personally denounce the sentencing of Mariam Ibrahim as cruel and inhumane, to demand her release, and to use the diplomatic influence of the State Department to advocate for this most fundamental human right, the freedom of religion and belief.
Russell D. Moore
Download a PDF of this letter on ERLC letterhead.