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May 21, 2014

INHOFE CALLS FOR RELEASE OF SUDANESE WOMAN IMPRISONED FOR HER CHRISTIAN FAITH

Inhofe joins Sens. Rubio, Coons, and Menendez in introducing legislation condemning death sentence of Meriam and reaffirming U.S. commitment to end religious persecution 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today joined U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); Chris Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs; and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, in introducing S.Res.453, legislation condemning the death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman accused of apostasy who is also eight months pregnant. The resolution calls for her immediate and unconditional release from prison, where she remains with her 20 month-old son; reaffirms the U.S. government’s commitment to ending religious discrimination; and calls for the inclusion of religious freedom and respect for international human rights during the drafting of Sudan’s new constitution.       

“It is hard to imagine that we still live in a world where a government has detained a pregnant woman and sentenced her to death solely for peacefully practicing her personal faith,” said Inhofe. “I’ve joined my Senate colleagues in urging the government of Sudan to release Meriam and her child immediately and for the United States to help with any means possible to ensure her safety. We are a nation founded on the value that freedom of religion is the foundation to all freedoms, and therefore we have a duty to encourage others to recognize this basic human right. Kay and I have Meriam and her family in our prayers, and I will continue to work to do everything in my power to help secure her safe release.”

In March 2013, Inhofe introduced S.Res.69, a resolution calling for the United States to assist in the protection of religious minority rights and freedoms in the Arab world where many governments continue to tolerate violations of this basic human right.

A PDF of S.Res.453 is available here.

The resolution resolves that the Senate:

(1)       condemns the charge of apostasy and death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and calls for immediate and unconditional release of her and her son;

(2)       encourages efforts by the United States Government to support religious freedom within Sudan including by requiring, before normalizing relations or lifting sanctions under the International Religious Freedom Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, that the government of Sudan abide by international standards of freedom of religion or belief;

(3)       urges the government of Sudan to ensure that, when drafting the country’s new constitution, the process is transparent and inclusive of civil society leaders and representatives of all major political parties, to ensure that the new constitution includes protections for freedom of religion or belief, respect for international human rights commitments, and recognition of Sudan as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural nation;

(4)       recognizes that every individual regardless of religion should have the opportunity to practice their religion without fear of discrimination;

(5)       reaffirms the commitment of the United States to ending  religious discrimination and to pursuing policies that guarantee the basic human rights of all individuals worldwide; and

(6)       encourages the Department of State, and  the United States Agency for International Development, to continue their support for initiatives worldwide that support religious freedom.

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