Women in the West thus have a particular responsibility to focus a light on cruelty to women elsewhere. Sometimes it takes one brave woman to illuminate the horror of certain strains of Islam that make the oppression of women an everyday part of their lives. Meriam Ibrahim, 27, is a mother of two in Sudan, the youngest being less than a fortnight old, who is under a death sentence for refusing to abandon the Christian faith she lived as the daughter of the Christian mother who raised her. Her heartbreaking story comes to us as through a medieval lens colored by ignorance, barbarism and fanaticism.
The headline across a British tabloid tells the gruesome story like it is: "Wife Set to Hang for Marrying Christian."
The photograph in the newspapers shows Mrs. Ibrahim as a beautiful bride in a long white dress, a sparkling tiara, with her arm draped around Daniel Wani, her husband, an American citizen, on her wedding day in 2011. Now she is shackled to the floor in a filthy Sudan prison cell with her son, 18 months old, and her new daughter. The court was not without Shariah mercy: She has two years time to wean the infant before she is to be lashed 100 times, and then what is left of her is to be hanged until she is dead.
She was convicted of apostasy, the abandonment of a religious belief, and adultery, capital crimes under Shariah. She's considered an adulteress since the Sudanese court vacated her marriage. In Sudan, a marriage between a Muslim and a Christian is invalid. This is the Muslim version of "Catch-22."
She told the court: "I am a Christian and I am not an apostate." She never abandoned Islam because she has never been a Muslim. Her mother was a Christian and her Muslim father abandoned the family when she was 6. But Sharia dictates that the child of a Muslim is a Muslim. Her husband had fled Sudan during its brutal civil war, settled in New Hampshire and became an American citizen.
The semi-good news is that the outrage has gone both viral and global. Millions are peppering Sudanese embassies and legations across the world with protests and pleas for her freedom.