Persecution in Sudan
Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old doctor, was expecting her second child when she was accused of converting to Christianity from Islam, a crime punishable by death in Sudan. She had always been a Christian; she was raised by her Christian mother. But under Islamic law, the foundation of Sudan's legal system, Meriam was a Muslim because her father was a Muslim. She was given three days to 'convert back' to Islam. She refused - and was sentenced to death by hanging.
After mounting international pressure, Meriam's sentence was overturned. But her story is just one extreme example of what life is like for Christians in Sudan. Blasphemy laws are frequently used to prosecute Christians, particularly Muslim-background believers, and a significant number of Christians have been imprisoned.
Islam is deeply embedded in Sudan's culture, and following the secession of the Christian-oriented South Sudan, Sudan became an even more majority-Islamic country. Sharia (Islamic law) is the foundation of Sudan's legal system, and the regime of President al-Bashir has made it clear the country is a Muslim country and should adopt a Sharia constitution. As well as using the blasphemy laws to target Christians for arrest and imprisonment, the government also keeps demolishing churches, often at very short notice.
"There are many Meriams in Sudan," Meriam Ibrahim said after her release. She is now living in the USA with her family - but what is the answer for Sudanese Christians who remain in Sudan? "We trust God for a solution," said one believer, after his church was demolished by the government. "He is able and great."