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A Sudanese judge has sentenced a heavily pregnant Christian woman to hang for apostasy, a ruling that Britain denounced as “barbaric” and left the United States “deeply disturbed”.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is married to a Christian and is eight months pregnant, human rights activists say.

Born to a Muslim father, she was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions of faith on pain of death.

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“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.

Khalifa also sentenced Ishag to 100 lashes for “adultery”. Under Sudan’s interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.
In Washington, the State Department said the United States was “deeply disturbed” by the sentence and urged Sudan to protect freedom of religion.