Sudanese Judge Imposes Death Sentence On Woman Who Allegedly Converted To Christianity And Later Married

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Merriam's WeddingA twenty seven year old Christian woman, who is presently eight months pregnant, has been sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy and adultery. Having been born to a Muslim father, the Sudanese government contends that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, was Muslim and that she later converted to Christianity before marrying her South Sudanese husband, a Christian. Sudanese law considers marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims to be invalid. Under Sudan’s interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous. Thus, her pregnancy is considered to be resulting from an adulterous relationship, punishable by one hundred lashings.

Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa sentenced Meriam to death and declared:

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” The judge addressed her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.

Ms Ishag reacted without emotion when the judge delivered the verdict at a court in the Khartoum district of Haj Yousef. Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic religious leader spoke with her in the caged dock for about 30 minutes. Then she calmly told the judge:

“I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”

Amnesty International said Ms Ishag was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her Muslim father was absent.

Despite the attendance of Western officials from various embassies, and others pleading for reasonableness, no reprieve seems to have been made.

After the hearing about 50 people demonstrated against the verdict.

“No to executing Meriam,” said one of their signs while another proclaimed: “Religious rights are a constitutional right.” In a speech, one demonstrator said they would continue their protests until she is freed.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, four embassies expressed “deep concern” over her case.

Flag of Sudan“We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs,” the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said in their statement. That right is included in Sudan’s 2005 interim constitution as well as in international human rights law, they said. The embassies urged Sudanese legal authorities “to approach Ms Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people”.

While Western officials have made a compelling case for this being a case of religious freedom pursuant to the Sudanese Interim Constitution, there are some troubling issues regarding allowance of Sharia Law to be considered constitutional by the courts.

The constitution does provide for several articles that could factor into the case; some in her favor and some not.

Under 32(3), Rights of Women: “The State shall combat harmful customs and traditions which undermine the dignity and the status of women.”

In this case one could argue the imposition of the state’s interpretation of Sharia Law prohibiting the right of women to enter into marriage with a person of their own choosing is unconstitutional. The Christian minority of Sudan is marginalized in their culture by the imposition of another culture’s values and traditions. This is further pronounced under the next article:

Stained Glass Image of JesusUnder 47 Ethnic and Cultural Communities: “Ethnic and cultural communities shall have the right to freely enjoy and develop their particular cultures; members of such communities shall have the right to practice their beliefs, use their languages, observe their religions and raise their children within the framework of their respective cultures and customs.”

This seems to be at a fundamental conflict with the statutory Sharia Law. The argument might be that conversion, apostasy, is not a constitutionally protected expression of religion. If Meriam had both parents who were Christians the courts might not have carried out the prosecution. But it seems Merriam, as being Muslim strictly by virtue of a Muslim father, cannot under Sudanese law ever renounce this religion, even though she has later in life claimed to not have been a part of this faith.

A lesser argument can be made under the freedom of association right:

40 (1) “The right to peaceful assembly shall be guaranteed; every person shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his/her interests.”

It would seem the act of marriage would constitute an association for the purposes of Article 40, but how strongly this is incorporated into any common law of Sudan is not known to your author.

Despite these constitutional rights another aspect of the constitution seemingly has allowed the court to impose a death sentence which is rooted in the constitution itself. Yet there are two restrictions on the state:

Restriction on Death Penalty

36 (1) “No death penalty shall be imposed, save as retribution, hudud or punishment for extremely serious offences in accordance with the law.”

Emblem of SudanThis is where the issue becomes problematic. Hudud is generally a term meaning a crime that is intrinsically illegal under Sharia Law and generally has essentially a pre-defined punishment. These include for this case Adultery and Apostasy. Hudud is considered one of the four categories of punishment in Islamic Law and is considered offenses against divinity. In a sense Merriam could be considered fortunate in that some interpretations of how the punishment might be administered make Adultery to be of a lesser offense if the convicted was not legally married to another, hence the lashings. Punishments for married persons can include stoning. But it is rather moot since her death sentence was for Apostasy.

The time frame for which the execution might be delayed due to subsection 3:

(3) “No death penalty shall be executed upon pregnant or lactating women, save after two years of lactation.”

Merriam is reportedly eight months pregnant and as such is supposedly safe from immediate execution. If she gives birth without complication she might be given a reprieve for another two years if she is allowed to nurse her child.

Yet, this is all it seems subject to how willing a Constitutional Court and a Human Rights Commission, established under the Sudan Constitution, will be to save Merriam from death or other punishment. Sudan’s reputation in the world for human rights is notorious, especially when its president Omar al-Bashir has an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for allegedly being a co-conspirator or otherwise criminally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. A charge he and the Sudanese government contests.

Yet despite this one of the articles in the constitution can some hope in the future, barring a change of governance on its own accord:

Under Article 27 (3): “All rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments ratified by the Republic of the Sudan shall be an integral part of this Bill [of rights].”

This possibly could be an avenue for which the international community might have some diplomatic influence in the long term and strategic sense. If Sudan was to be enjoined into an international agreement guaranteeing the human rights it might be a possibility the government of Sudan might change its statutes out of a constitutional requirement. The human rights agreement could be made to be conditional upon accepting an endorsement from the West for economic and trade agreements.

It certainly can be hoped that with the involvement and pressure exerted by the international community and dissenters within Sudan a second round of appeal might provide a face saving way of putting this issue to rest. But what Meriam is going to endure is certainly going to be an injustice no matter what the ultimate outcome.

By Darren Smith


Raidió Teilifís Éireann

Sudan Constitution via

Congressional Research Service–International Criminal Court Cases in Africa: Status in Policy Issues July 22, 2011

Wikipedia “Hudud”

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

114 thoughts on “Sudanese Judge Imposes Death Sentence On Woman Who Allegedly Converted To Christianity And Later Married

  1. First, it is time for the US and President Obama to make it clear that these blasphemy prosecutions must stop. Second Obama must stop supporting any work on an international blasphemy standard. The international standard should be free dime of and freedom from religion as well as strict separation of church and state. Third no more money arms or any form of foreign aid should go to Sudan or any other country that carries out, supports or allows such prosecutions and I do mean any other country.
    Fourth, it is time to tell religious extremists in our own country that if they cannot rely on the faithfulness of their own members to follow their rules they should not expect our government to incorporate those rules into our laws. In the same vain no further tax exemptions or public funding of any sort should be given to any religious entity for any reason.

    As to the victim of this travesty we should make every effort to get her out of Sudan because even if the government relents on the death penalty her life is over there. I cannot think of a better case for asylum.

  2. This is such a good example of bad comprehension. This goes against the earliest teachings of Islam. The quran does not mandate this. Scholars have. In Quran the only “apstacy” that involved a death sentence was connected to the crime of treason.

  3. My heart is sick with the horror of this situation – what kind of ‘god’ are they ‘worshipping;? – just a bunch of words they are interpreting in whatever way they see fit. Blinded by their own conceit and pomposity and the lowest human feelings of their own importance.
    I feel sorry for Muslims, their ‘religion’ is hate-filled nonsense which has trapped them. These beliefs are showing the rest of the world that the Muslim faith is something to be avoided at all costs !
    I belong to no religion at the moment, but from my knowledge of the story of Christ – there is a demonstration of what humanity’s best can and should be ! We in the west do all understand what that story taught us.
    May this little lady be rescued and those that persecute her be removed from their powerful positions.

  4. This is a judicial problem. The father was absent, the mother was Christian. End of case. The judge is the one who is apostate.

  5. It’s certainly another sign of religion gone mad and it demands a strong response and severe condemnation. But when I see these disturbing instances of ‘justice’ I am reminded of the innocents that are killed by the state in ‘Christian’ response to crime.

    If it weren’t for involvement of outside organizations, those innocent people would have been killed by the state.

    And as a recent study found:

    The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.

    Sensationalism aside, is it ok for the ‘Christian’ US to kill innocents, but it’s wrong for ‘Muslim’ Sudan to do the same? The hypocrisy around this matter is sometimes mind numbing….

  6. Those who hold that religious dictates are legitimate justice, and even ignore the law of the land carrying them out, are purely and simply criminals and terrorists. Such lunacy, being the most corrupt of criminal enterprises, should be declared to be just what they are, treated as such and dealt extermination by international justice.

  7. So far righteous indignation and one tepid, “Ho hum.” This is what has evolved. This is what occurs when our President narcissistically believed he would be embraced by the Muslim world. These people hate us and our way of life. Like the Nazi’s, they want to destroy us and then convert us, Hitler to an Aryan world, radical Islam to a Muslim world. Thanks for posting this, Darren.

  8. when its these kind of people or regimes that bring the bad name to religion in all religions, we shall not remain quiet. its an easy word to say,” im muslim” but in reallity are they really?.when it comes to these kind of people all they do is promote trouble, disorder ,torture and any other wrongs that come with it .its there own way of interpreting religion. shame be on them all .

  9. Except if, from a neurological, hence biological, view, the whole of the human species is embedded in a form of existentially-imposed insane psychosis, I have no way to grasp a hint of any understanding of how the people of one nation-state in which central government law enforcement can impose on deviant citizens the death penalty for apostasy can honestly and truthfully object to another central government of another nation state imposing the death penalty for a contrasting form of apostasy.

    While a misbegotten lethal injection method effectively tortures a condemned person to death, a nation state within which a state within that a nation state allows imposition of the death penalty for social deviance, decries the wrongfulness of another nation state for imposition of the death penalty for social deviance.

    So, a nation state which has in its sight, on its land, a forest of giant sequoias objects to a nation state which has in its sight, on its land no forest of very large trees comparable to the giant sequoiias of the termperate rain forest of the western United Sates

    The Unites States of American has giant timbers of deception having such immensity that they go un-noticed while the lesser specks in other nation states are resoundingly decried as wrong?

    While I find no hypocrisy in that apparent phenomenon, I do find robust evidence of massive socialization-trauma-induced devastating moral injury.

    More than anything else, as best I can yet discern, the truthful honesty inherent in a newborn infant is the greatest enemy of the state that can ever exist. As I give aid and comfort to autistic people who have retained a decent portion of the truthfully honest innocence of newborn infants, I cannot other than herwith make my Confession, in the open Court of public opinion, to being a traitor to the nation state of the United States of America in its present, deceptively dishonest condition.

    How do I properly go about demanding that The Congress declare a Punishment of Treason with regard to my having been conceived, seemingly in 1938, as an apparently intractably autistic person?

    See The Constitution of the United States of America, Article III, Section 3, for the constitutional provisions which cry out for my mandatory Punishment of Treason in consequence of my being autistic by conception.

  10. Well, Michelle was willing to pressure Barack to go after the girls because he had girls of his own, maybe she can pressure him to save this woman because he has a wife of his own?

  11. @ Michelle
    Nothing in Islamic law is settled more firmly than the death penalty for apostasy. The following Islamic scripture is perceived to be prescriptive, not just descriptive:

    Sunan Ibn Majah 2535—It was narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.”

    Sahih al-Bukhari 6878—Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) and that I am the Messenger of Allah, cannot be shed except in three cases: (1) Life for life; (2) a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and (3) the one who turns renegade from Islam (apostate) and leaves the group of Muslims.”

    Sahih al-Bukhari 6921—Ibn Umar, Az-Zuhri and Ibrahim said, “A female apostate (who reverts from Islam), should be killed.”

    Sahih al-Bukhari 6922—Narrated Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to Ali; and he burnt them. The news of this event reached Ibn Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Messenger forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Messenger, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”

    And many, many more…

    And Islamic scholars rule accordingly:

    Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik 36.18.15—Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam that the Messenger of Allah said, “If someone changes his religion—then strike off his head!” The meaning of the statement of the Prophet in our opinion—and Allah knows best—is that, “If someone changes his religion—then strike off his head!” refers to those who leave Islam for something else—like heretics and suchlike, about whom that is known. They are killed without being called to repent because their repentance is not recognized. They were concealing their disbelief and making their Islam public, so I do not think that one should call such people to repent and one does not accept their word. As for the person who leaves Islam for something else and divulges it, he is called on to repent. If he does not turn in repentance, he is killed. If there are people in that situation, I think that one should call them to Islam and call on them to repent. If they repent, that is accepted from them. If they do not epent, they are killed. That does not refer as we see it, and Allah knows best, to those who convert from Judaism to Christianity or from Christianity to Judaism, nor to someone who changes his religion from any of the various forms of religion except for Islam. Whoever comes out of Islam to something else and makes that known, that is the one who is referred to, and Allah knows best!

  12. @Jamie Dimon – bankster I oppose the death penalty, but equating executing convicted murderers with executing a (supposed) Muslim for marrying a Christian is a bit much.

  13. If all else fails, I think a drone visit would be appropriate for the so called court and judge. As TR said, speak softly and carry a big stick. Without a big stick, your words often have no effect. It is time for those fools to visit their Allah if they try to execute her.

  14. joshzzzz – what I said was that killing the innocent is deplorable under both a ‘Christian’ set of rules and a ‘Muslim’ set of rules. This woman being sentenced to death for her religion is as abominable as the innocent person sentenced to death in US because evidence was hidden, incompetent counsel, DNS evidence that isn’t admitted, or false testimony. Both are murder by the state (religious or secular), and both are barbaric and inhuman.

  15. Religion is the opiate of the people. This schmuck overdosed. He needs to be killed. Hanging is too good for him. The Oklahoma method would be appropriate. Stick a needle in the groin and inject poison. I wont say balls because Oklahoma calls it groin. I groan when I read about it. Send this Judge to Oklahoma and give it to him straight. As for the Sudan: Pirate Territory, fly over and flush.

  16. The US has given billions of dollars to Sudan, with goals of stabilizing the nation, preventing it from harboring terrorists, and improving its human rights abuses.

    We should STOP giving aid to countries under Sharia Law, and other human rights abuses. I realize that this will label us anti-Islamic, to openly use Sharia Law as a disqualifier, but the facts are what they are: Sharia Law, by definition, allows the abuse of women, gays, and anyone who offends the Faith. Getting a Western haircut, wearing nail polish, and criticizing Islam can all carry extreme punishments. Muslims can easily have their Christian neighbors killed by claiming they insulted the Prophet. No proof is needed.

    It is not anti-Catholic to sincerely state that the faith has an entrenched problem with pedophilia, and it needs to clean up its act. Similarly, it is not anti-Islam to state that it, too, needs reform. It is entirely possible, and even common, here in the US for moderate Muslims to practice their faith in a very positive way. But it is a demonstrable fact that radical Islam is the norm in Islamic countries. It has taken over the region. It is not a minority, or a fringe group. One has only to read the Sharia Law interpretations for each of the Muslim countries in the region to understand this.

    We need to stop worrying about what is PC, and start defending our American values, proudly, of equality and human rights. We should openly state that when Sharia Law allows human rights abuses, we will not support that country. You want our billions of dollars in aid? Then stop abusing and murdering your own people.

    Because our aid is obviously neither reducing human rights abuses nor reducing extremism. If an experiment does not have the desired result, stop running it.

    Thank you so much, Darren, for writing about a story that has been preying on my mind. I do not know what our country can do to secure her release, but I want us to express our displeasure in every way possible.

  17. Also, her 20 month old son is in prison with her. So a toddler is suffering deplorable conditions, as well as the threat of losing his mom.

  18. Karen – depending on the prison, kids are resilient Many of this countries do not heed our money but they do need our protection. They are as nervous about Iran as we are. The keys are Iran and protection..

  19. Jamie:

    “Sensationalism aside, is it ok for the ‘Christian’ US to kill innocents, but it’s wrong for ‘Muslim’ Sudan to do the same? The hypocrisy around this matter is sometimes mind numbing….”

    It is a spurious argument to compare the erroneous conviction, and death sentence, of someone here in the US with the willful murder of a woman for marrying a Christian. The death penalty is imposed on very serious crimes. When an innocent man loses a court trial in such a case, it is a tragedy. It is not the definition of the crime itself that is the travesty, but the failure of the court system to protect an innocent man. In Sharia Law death penalty cases, it is the definition of the crime itself that is the travesty – in this case, claiming to be a Christian and marrying a Christian is a capital offense.

  20. Randyjet – here here! Speak softly but carry a big stick are words to live by. No one pokes a bear for a reason.

  21. Paul, it’s true that kids are very resilient. But when I imagine the conditions of a prison in Sudan, I’m afraid we’re going to hear something terrible is going to happen to that child or her unborn one. I hope word gets to her that her plight matters to many people, and that it gives her hope.

  22. What Justice Holmes said. This kind of religious law is disgusting and is another example why religion and governing should not mix.

  23. We do have several layers of courts to protect the rights of those who are given the death penalty. It appears that this woman does not have that many. And international pressure does not always work. Texas executed a Mexican murderer that Mexico wanted let go, think the Pope was involved with that, too.

    I do not condemn the judge. Sharia law is sharia law. If you follow it, you follow it. I cannot condemn him for doing his job. I do condemn the country for following Sharia law.

  24. Karen – you raise an interesting point about the children. According the Sharia law she is not married, so when she is executed her children will be orphans, so to speak. Are they wards of the state?

  25. rafflaw – can you give us an example of a time when religion has not been part of governing in any English speaking country?

  26. There are additional issues here regarding this woman’s children, who are US citizens as is their father. These children, currently with her in jail, will not be returned to their father because he is not a Muslim. The do not recognize their marriage, thus the adultery charge for which she will be lashed 100 times as soon as she has given birth. Since the do not recognize the marriage and claim that she is Muslim, based on her dead beat father’s religion, they also claim that the children are Muslim and cannot be raised by a non Muslim. It was her father’s family, notably absent when she and here mother needed assistance after being abandoned, who were the ones who brought these charges. Will they receive the two children? Was that the point of bringing charges to begin with?

    There are also possible charges pending against the husband (who’s American passport has been seized) for having encouraged apostasy. Even though this woman has been a practicing Christian since infancy -well before he ever met her.

    Beyond the issues of Human Rights, concerning the wife, the US also needs to consider and strongly protest the treatment of these three American Citizens.

  27. There was a time when someone here would have chimed in that if Christian Republicans have their way our country will be doing this stuff too. That still might be said here yet. Vegas has it even money.

  28. Paul,
    An amazing question on a legal blog. Read our Constitution and the court cases that confirm the separation of church and state.

  29. When I was in the USAF and stationed in Turkey, one of our enlisted men was married to a Turkish woman. He had married her when he was in Izmir which was a more pluralist city, but the woman’s family was outraged at the marriage since he was not Muslim. Fortunately, the Turkish government at the time was a secular one, so there was nothing that they could do about it legally, but her brothers made it clear they wanted to kill him. The one thing preventing that was that he had a number of guns in his home and was willing and able to use them against any nasty things they might try. Force and violence are the only things that will work against such people. It is time to apply and continue applying those remedies.

  30. rafflaw – would you point out that ‘separation of church and state’ part of the Consitution? I cannot seem to find it.

  31. Paul must not have looked very hard.

    The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  32. Chuck – do you see the words ‘separation of church and state’ any where in the Constitution. I am fully aware of what the Constitution actually says.

  33. As has been demonstrated time and again, there are some people here who are out of place since they place no value on facts, rational thinking, and cannot even use the proper words in definitions. It makes as much sense as to talk to a chair to have any dialogue with such people.

  34. Paul,
    Are you missing that I also stated the court cases that confirmed the separation of church and state?

  35. Chuck Stanley, you left out the most important part – it protects the free exercise of religion by individuals.

  36. rafflaw – I did not ask you that. I asked you where in the Constitution did it say ‘separation of church and state’?

  37. SierraRose:
    Nope. Notice that the establishment clause has two parts. Part the second says, “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    You can also factor in the Freedom of Assembly clause and you have the full meal deal, which enables one to establish a group identity for any lawful purpose, such as a church.

  38. Paul,
    I know you are not a stupid man, but with questions like that, one might begin to think otherwise.

    You know quite well those exact words are not in the constitution, just as many other words and phrases are not there either. However, the way in which the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution is worded carries that exact same meaning.

  39. Paul Schulte

    Nick – George Clooney is currently looking for a house in London to be near his new gf.
    What are the Kardasians doing?

  40. randyjet

    As has been demonstrated time and again, there are some people here who are out of place since they place no value on facts, rational thinking, and cannot even use the proper words in definitions. It makes as much sense as to talk to a chair to have any dialogue with such people.
    They do not understand jurisprudence.

  41. Dredd the problem is not just one of jurisprudence, but of rational thought and dialogue. If we had a person here who said that since a dog has four legs, fur and a tail, a cat has the same, therefore a dog is a cat. Would there be any point to argue with such a person? They are immune to rational thought and have either no capacity for it or simply enjoy goading people into response. If they are so dumb as to put their thoughts into action and place a strange cat and dog in the same room and the blood and fur start to fly, they will blithely assert that nothing is wrong and will deny actual reality to keep their ideology. The falsity is more important than reality to them for whatever reason. Even worse, there is nothing to be gained for others since there is nothing to be learned from such exchanges. In short, it is pointless on all scores.

  42. Chuck – rafflaw, who supposedly is an attorney, made a statement, which I asked him to back up. He cannot and you and I both know it. It is nice of you to come to his defense, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. And actually it does not have the exact same meaning. If it did, the Founding Fathers would have written it that way.

  43. randyjet

    Dredd the problem is not just one of jurisprudence, but of rational thought and dialogue.
    “jurispru·dence noun 1.the science or philosophy of law.”

    In the science of law, without the prior establishment of a set of facts, no law can apply.

    That is why we have the “trier of fact” prior to the application of the law.

    In our society, in the court of public opinion, there has been a coup where opinion has been elevated to overthrow the trier of fact within.

    Thus, we see the application of law to opinion rather than the application of law to fact.

    Like the judge in the instant case did.

  44. Sierra Rose – I did not know the father was an American. Why are we not doing more then?

    100 lashes is a death sentence by whipping. It cannot be survived. If they impose both sentences, she will not live long enough to be hanged.

  45. randyjet – fortunate that this happened to the enlisted years ago. The secular nature of Turkey is slipping as extremism spreads throughout the region.

    And his ability to defend himself is the exact reason for the 2nd Amendment. If the US ever becomes prone to excesses, or makes the suicidal decision to allow Sharia Law to become part of our legal system, its government needs to have a healthy respect for the ability of the citizenry to rise.

  46. Karen – just so they can carry out the sentence they usually break the number of lashes up into a couple of sessions. They do not want to cheat themselves of the pleasure of getting those lashes in.

  47. I think what has been argued is that the country was not founded by atheists. (Although there is some controversy as to the extent of Christian faith of some of the founders.) Throughout its foundation documents, and discussions back and forth in letters between the founders, we find “God-given rights”, and other expressions of faith.

    There is great debate over the range of beliefs of the Founders, from “theistic rationalism” to a preference over Biblical ideals over organized religion. And then there is the Treaty of Tripoli where we made an obsequious bow to Islam. (See link.)

    But it would be anachronistic to apply today’s standards where a lack of religion or faith is more common, to hundreds of years ago, when most attended church regularly.

    I think what is more likely is that what was foremost on the minds of the founders were the reasons why the pilgrims colonized America: to escape the confines of a State religion with which they disagreed. That, combined with the early Dutch settler’s goals of less restricted commerce and opportunity, would have led them to specifically restrict the powers of government from forming a State religion. But it was not an atheistic effort. God and their faith, in varying degrees, infused their efforts. And it can be argued that a combination of Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian values are at the roots of our laws. This does not lesson their efforts to separate church and state; it merely shows the relevance of the times. America was unusual in that so many denominations of Christianity flourished. This was a right Americans were proud of.

    The vital separation of Church and State does not mean our founding was atheistic, nor does it drive the expression of faith underground. We have the right to openly worship, pray, kneel, or bow wherever we choose. And although there are marked Judeo-Christian influences in our laws, our Constitution would prohibit a theocracy such as Sharia Law or overtly Biblical Law.

  48. Paul, I have a good friend in the fight biz. He managed Tommy Morrison. What a crazy guy he was! Anyway, I’ve been to MANY fights w/ him. The most sadistic thing you can see is when a boxer has the ability to put an opponent away but then starts working the body to punish him, making the opponent quit. Ali did that w/ Ernie Terrell. Ernie later became big into amateur boxing in Chicago. I met him several times @ the Chicago Golden Glove finals. They were fought[maybe still are] @ a Catholic School gym on Addison, 4 blocks from where we lived.

  49. Nick – you had to see Rocky Marciano fight to see a fighter punish another fighter. He would beat on the arms of his opponent until he could no longer raise his arms, then knock him out. Only undefeated heavyweight champion of the world.

  50. Paul Schulte

    Dredd – so you are an expert in Sharia law?
    Knowing the difference among Sharia opinion, Sharia fact, and Sharia law is the same as knowing the difference among Baptist opinion, Baptist fact, and Baptist law.

    Same with American jurisprudence.

    It does not take an expert.

    It simply takes one who is not a buffoon.

  51. Paul, I’m a dago! Rocky was a cult hero. So was the greatest defensive boxer of all time, Willie Pep, from my home state of Ct. My Uncle Nick trained w/ him. Rocky had that bad Italian trait of trusting no one. Unlike many boxers, he saved his money but just by putting it in containers and burying it. As you may know, Marciano died in a plane crash, that money is still buried somewhere!

  52. Nick – W.C. Fields trusted no one and put his money is savings accounts all around the country. Sadly, he lost all the account books so there is money growing in accounts who knows where and he could not remember as the alcoholism got to him.

  53. In my view the prosecution and sentence violate Sudanese constitutional and treaty law as set forth in Darren’s column. Freedom of speech and association are inconsistent with laws exempting religious belief from disagreement or criticism. The reluctance of government to protect these freedoms is always and everywhere a product off irrational fear.

  54. Mike – I would agree that it violates two of the articles but seems to agree with two of the articles. That is where it gets tricky. And governments are notorious for ignoring the constitution when it serves their purpose.

  55. PS–I’m not asking that rhetorically. I am curious and want to read informed opinions. I’m not interested in left or right agendas or the use of EVERY fekking issue as a means to bash one side or the other.

  56. Paul Schulte

    Dredd – just to be clear are you or are you not calling me a buffoon?
    Just to be clear, are you calling me an expert in sharia law?
    But these specialists do agree on the following:

    Sharia is not static. Its interpretations and applications have changed and continue to change over time.

    There is no one thing called sharia. A variety of Muslim communities exist, and each understands sharia in its own way. No official document, such as the Ten Commandments, encapsulates sharia. It is the ideal law of God as interpreted by Muslim scholars over centuries aimed toward justice, fairness and mercy.

    Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observance such as prayer and fasting, and not with national laws.

    Any observant Muslim would consider him or herself a sharia adherent. It is impossible to find a Muslim who practices any ritual and does not believe himself or herself to be complying with sharia. Defining sharia as a threat, therefore, is the same thing as saying that all observant Muslims are a threat.”

  57. Dredd – I am not sure what you are, but I would not call you an expert on sharia law. Is this your writing on sharia law or should you be linking to a source? The writing style is different then the one you use on this blog.

  58. Karen,
    Did your lost comment get retrieved? I looked for it in the spam filter, but could not find it.

  59. Paul Schulte

    “Dredd – I am not sure what you are, but I would not call you an expert on sharia law.”
    Then your question to that effect was phony.

    Since it takes a sharia expert to know a sharia expert, your opinion is useless.
    “Is this your writing on sharia law or should you be linking to a source? The writing style is different then the one you use on this blog.”
    No, it is a sharia expert’s writing.

    I recognized it as such, and am not surprised that you did not.

  60. As other’s have pointed out, this is one of the consequences of combining church and state. State religions and their laws have no place in a civilized society. I doubt we will be able to help this poor woman, that is the sad Godawful truth, IMO.

  61. China better start answering the 911 world police emergency calls…

    Boko Haram rebels from Nigeria attacked a Chinese work site in northern Cameroon on Friday and at least 10 people are believed to have been kidnapped, the regional governor said on Saturday.
    The Chinese embassy in Yaounde confirmed the attack at a site near the town of Waza, 12 miles from the Nigerian border close to the Sambisa forest, a Boko Haram stronghold.

    Idea for a Sudanese settlement: Don Sterling stiffs the NBA $2.5 million fine, negotiates the release of the woman for $2.5 million (money talks) and safe passage out of the country. The news media would have a field day.

  62. I tried reposting again but it got eaten again. Could you tell me how to avoid the filter? My comments that I’ve lost a post go through, but not my post itself.

  63. Dredd – so, you are saying you are an expert on sharia law having written that screed that you posted earlier? Or you are saying that you lifted it from somebody else and because you are an expert on sharia law your recognize it as accurate?

  64. Nick – that is not true. I had one longish post yesterday that it refused four times, finally gave up.

  65. Karen, Larry:

    I located and retrieved the comment.

    Folks: Karen’s comment can be read above at 1:33

  66. Thanks Darren, I was about to suggest a military style raid on the spam monster to destroy it. :)

  67. Thanks, Darren. What are the filters, besides more than 2 links, so I can try to avoid getting lost in cyberspace?

  68. Karen – great post but now I can see why it was eaten. I wonder if the spam monster has a word count limit? I have had a few larger word count items eaten.

  69. Paul – I tried breaking it up into 4 or 5 lines, and it still was eaten. Maybe it’s a subtle reminder to improve my prose. I wonder if there are key words or phrases.

  70. Karen & Paul

    Nobody fully understands the mysterious ways of the WordPress Vortex of Doom. It is not of our world, and of an intelligence known only to itself.

  71. Paul, Maybe wordpress gets a female vibe from you, kinda like Alan Alda, Phil Donahue, etc.

  72. Paul Schulte

    Dredd – so, you are saying you are an expert on sharia law having written that screed that you posted earlier? Or you are saying that you lifted it from somebody else and because you are an expert on sharia law your recognize it as accurate?
    Find an expert on Baptist Law and I will find another one.

    We will compare drawls.

    It will be as coherent as two experts on Sharia Law.

    Bullshit is a religion after all.

    So loose the aura of knowing.

    Stick to expert opinion, or as in the case of this thread, just opinion.

    Same difference.

  73. Dredd – so, you are not an expert on sharia law, but you have an opinion. BTW, I am not sure there is something called Baptist Law. I know there is Canon Law and I used to know a priest who was an expert in it, but I am weak on other religions. Tell me about Baptist Law.

  74. Darren – I am thinking WordPress is like the Daleks – Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

  75. I say, don’t do the crime of you can’t do the time. She know the laws of her country, and as a lawbreaker she needs to be punished. The judge is simply doing his job, and he has the law of the land as well as clear religious doctrine on his side. Who are we to say that he is wrong? Law enforcement’s job is to enforce the law of the land, period.

  76. Paul Schulte
    You will find the word Religion in the Constitution…
    … You will not find the Holy Bible in it, ANYWHERE.


    The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
    (continued at link w/ case citations)

    I hope this helps your understanding a bit better… ?

  77. Max-1 – our conversation was over the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ which does not appear in the Constitution. I am well aware of what the Constitution actually says, but thank you for sending me Cornell’s take on the Establishment Clause. :)

  78. I enjoy discussions about the First Amendment and its various prongs. Except the Religion Prong or what I call The Sintur Klause. A civilized nation state should entertain the practice of religion one day a year. In Holland, they do the Santa thing on December 5th or Sintur Klaus Day. Santa is about as close to religion as I want to get. I can deal with the flying sleigh thing and going down the chimney but that apCray about the Holy Ghost and Three Hail Marys only makes it with me in a football game. People who kill others in the name of God need to be killed in the name of Dog. Dog is the only deity on this Earth worth worshiping. Especially some of the puppies which appear on this blog. To the new guys visiting the blog, keep an eye out for the good animal articles.

  79. I find it curious that we Americans are hit with these dramatic human interest stories (persecuted Sudanese lady and kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls) in two countries in Africa that are oil rich. I wonder if the U.S. is seeking excuses for military entry to oil-rich countries? After Iraq, one wonders. It reminds me of the incubators babies story in Kuwait that greased the activation of the U.S. military action. There are horrific actions that occur around the globe every day. Why in the world are these human interest stories from Africa so prominent in U.S. news, demanding urgent action? My heart wants desperately for all these women to be safe, but my head tells me these ladies may not have too much to do with the actual possible agendas over there. Follow the money over time and the motives may be revealed. Religion, after all, is a terrific divider of people.

  80. According to our State Dept. the group is not Muslim, however reports are they have trained Muslim groups. They also attacked the Chinese. After Benghazi I do not trust anything that comes out of the State Dept.

  81. It’s a sticky wicket indeed, especially when the U.S. espouses fairness and democracy and yet sides with/promotes/creates/defends despots and killers in other countries where we dabble / meddle.

  82. We should not risk one American life over these bimbos in the jungles. An alternative to intervention is to set some standards as to what a nation state indeed is. When they match the standard then allow American companies to do free trade, allow Americans to travel there, allow the nation state to belong to the League of Nations (oops) United Nations, and no longer treat them as a Pirate Territory. We used to call these places Third World Countries or Fourth World Countries. No pun intended and no mis spelling was done so I was not describing them as some sort of trees. Right now all one can do is fly over and flush twice. No troops Obama. Let Kenya give them some direction. Or perhaps Great Britain their former colonial god father.

  83. Paul S said:

    ‘According to our State Dept. the group is not Muslim’

    Actually a right-wing propagandist said that was said by someone from State.

    You cannot run, nor determine, nor become knowledgeable about foreign policy on the basis of a sound bite.

    People who think you can need to be kept away from the levers of government. And need to read more.

  84. Professor Turley, thanks for an illuminating article on the various legal aspects of this unfairly persecuted woman’s situation. I know your expertise is on matter or law but to me speaking of law in this situation without analyzing the politics and the previous bad acts by the Sudanese government would be incomplete. what is your opinion and arm chair analysis of this situation and whether or not it will bring about real forceful action or is this woman going to be just another dead person in a file labeled Sudanese atrocities? I full understand the western world must embrace its limits but it also seems that Sudan is a always in the news for one after another dark age act of bigotry and near genocide. Could we be ignoring this den of corrupt tyranny at our own peril? I would love to hear your opinion even if it is just as a short commentary in the comments.

  85. The women should be given the benefit of doubt as her mother was Christian.On the other hand we must not criticise Laws whether Islamic or Constitutional.But what you people say about Dr Aafia Ssidiqui and innocent Guantanamo prisoners.

  86. Is there any further news on Merriam’s plight as the deadline for her change of heart and ultimately the carrying out of the sentence, was Thursday I believe?

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