A Muslim comes out and says in print that death for apostasy has to go

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her husband

As you read this piece, a 27-year-old woman named Meriam Yahya Ibrahim will be awaiting her death in Sudan. For on May 15, she was sentenced to death by a court who found her guilty of “apostasy.” Her “crime,” in other words, was simply to abandon Islam and adopt Christianity.

In fact, the court who tried Ms. Ibrahim gave her just three days – so that she could perhaps “recant.” Yet she is still alive, because she was pregnant and recently gave birth to her baby. So the court decided that she will be allowed to live for two more years, in jail, with her baby, which she can breastfeed. Her other child, a 20-month-old boy, is already with her in prison. He will be old enough in two years to be traumatized by the execution of his mother. The husband, meanwhile, is in deep agony, hopelessly frequenting court rooms and prison gates.

In short, what is being done to Ms. Ibrahim and her family is a ruthless, cruel, outrageous violation of human rights. Yet unfortunately, both the Sudanese authorities and some likeminded Muslims see this only as justice, because they seriously believe that all “apostates” from Islam, without any doubt, should be put to death.

However, as a Muslim myself, I join many other co-religionists of mine who oppose this apostasy ban, and see it as both an attack on religious freedom and an insult to Islam itself…

How can a religion claim to be noble, and reasonable, if it tries to keep its believers in the fold with death threats? How can we also expect this threat to make the would-be apostates good Muslims? Wouldn’t they, at best, rather become hypocrites who hide their disbelief merely out of fear?

The writer is Mustafa Akyol, a Turk, writing at the liberal Hurriyet site. There are no reader restrictions so read the whole thing.