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WCC Calls on Sudanese President to Protect Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag

Contact: World Council of Churches, +41-79-507-6363

GENEVA, May 23, 2014 /Standard Newswire/ -- A court sentence in Sudan ordering flogging and the death penalty for Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag has prompted an expression of "profound concern" from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who has urged President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir to "prevent the implementation of this unjust and unconscionable sentence."

Ishag, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman, was criminally charged for converting from Islam to Christianity and charged with committing adultery for marrying a Christian man, according to media reports.

In his letter to President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, sent on 23 May, Tveit expressed shock over the court's decision. "Whether Mrs Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag was born of Muslim parents or Christian parents, such a sentence runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Sudanese Constitution," Tveit said. According to the Sudanese constitution, he added, all citizens have the "right to the freedom of religious creed and worship."

Tveit said that condemning Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag violates a fundamental principle of international human rights law embodied in Sudan's own constitution.

Read full text of the WCC general secretary's letter

Press statement from Internal Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan

WCC member churches in Sudan

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.