The world is full of cruelty, but something unfolding in Sudan should interest even jaded observers.
If a million deaths are a statistic, and a single death is a tragedy, this case puts a human face on the genocide of Christians by militant Muslims all over the world. God willing, this story might still have a happy ending if the U.S. government takes it seriously.
Dr. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishig, a pregnant Christian woman, was sentenced on May 11 by a Sudanese government Shariah law court to 100 lashes and then to be hanged. Her crimes? Apostasy, for being a Christian, and “adultery” for marrying a Christian man. Her Muslim father left her family when she was young, and her Christian mother raised her. By Shariah law, children must follow their father’s religion, even if he’s a deadbeat dad or worse. Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims, while Muslim men can.
We pause here to listen for outrage from American feminists about the Muslim world’s “war on women.” OK, let’s move on.
The court allowed Dr. Ishig to give birth to a daughter on May 16 in a prison clinic, but her death and lashing sentences remain.
Dr. Ishig, 27, had been chained to the floor for months during her pregnancy and while caring for her toddler son in a Sudanese prison “that a 2008 U.N. document reported as having an infant-mortality rate of one per day in the summer,” according to a petition to the White House asking for her release.
Dr. Ishig’s husband, Daniel Wani, is an American who lives in New Hampshire. If humanitarianism is not enough to get the Obama administration’s attention, then surely the fact that she is married to an American citizen should. New Hampshire’s two U.S. senators have asked for the State Department to intercede, and Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona has introduced H. Res. 601, calling for her release and granting of refugee status.
Since President Obama famously told us that America is no more exceptional than any other country, thus placing all nations on the same moral plain, U.S. diplomats might be reluctant to make a big push here out for fear of appearing culturally judgmental. Dispatching diplomats to secure Dr. Ishig’s release is a far milder intrusion into another nation’s domestic affairs than, say, Mr. Obama’s bombing of Libya without congressional approval, egging on of Muslim rebels who brought down Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak regime or aiding rebels trying to overthrow Syria’s government.
When Dr. Ishig was convicted of apostasy and given four days to repent or face the ultimate penalty, she declined to denounce her faith in her savior, Jesus Christ. Hence, the flailing and death sentence under a legal code birthed by the “religion of peace.”
Also in the news, Muslims in the Central African Republic stormed a Catholic church in the capital city of Bangui on Wednesday and massacred at least 30 people. A Washington Times article notes that “members of the Seleka rebel coalition looted, raped and killed Christians upon seizing control of Bangui last year.”
In Nigeria, the Muslim group Boko Haram has become famous for kidnapping about 275 schoolgirls and threatening to sell them as slaves, garnering a tweet from first lady Michelle Obama asking them to “#Bring Back Our Girls.” Mr. Obama has since dispatched advisers to Nigeria to assist in the search for the kidnapped children.
During the past two years, Boko Haram, which means “Western education is evil,” has burned churches and schools, and raped, tortured and killed thousands of Christians and moderate Muslims, earning them mention in news articles decrying “sectarian” violence.
In Iran, pastor Saeed Abedini, 33, an Idaho resident, is serving eight years in prison for the crime of encouraging apostasy — trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. He had been hauled off a bus and imprisoned for months before being tried and convicted in January 2013. His wife, Naghmeh, and their two children still reside in Idaho. She has been to Washington and elsewhere, lobbying for his release.
Hospitalized recently for “treatment of life-threatening injuries, including internal bleeding sustained from frequent beatings by prison guards,” according to Fox News, Mr. Abedini managed on April 20 to get out an Easter message, which read in part:
“Jesus said to His Disciples: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16:24).” The courageous Mr. Abedini is bearing a cross that few would want to carry.
In Iraq, over the past decade, about 1 million of that war-scarred nation’s 1.5 million Christians have fled to other countries. Some of them settled in Syria, where they have become targets of al Qaeda-allied rebel factions.
Open Doors, which documents religious persecution, reports that 14 of the 15 most oppressive countries persecuting Christians are Muslim-majority nations, with former basketball star Dennis Rodman’s favorite country, communist North Korea, filling out the list.
As Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, noted in an April 17 column in The Wall Street Journal, his tiny nation is the only one in the Middle East with a growing Christian population.
As Christians are massacred daily across the world by Muslim terrorists, we have heard very little from a White House that hectors us almost daily about “tolerance.”
Let’s conclude with a story from Afghanistan. In 2009, a 21-year-old Afghan woman was raped by a male relative. Under Shariah law, she was jailed for “forced adultery” and sentenced to two years in prison, during which she gave birth to a daughter. She appealed, and the court extended her sentence to 12 years unless she married her attacker. After an international outcry, she was released in December 2011.
“Honor killings” of young women by their families even in Western nations like Great Britain and Canada for “crimes” such as having the wrong boyfriend or converting to Christianity pop up in the media, but the press moves on quickly.
It’s up to the rest of us to make sure that people such as Dr. Ishig, Mr. Abedini and a growing list of other victims are not forgotten and that many prayers are lifted on their behalf.
Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.