CRF Blog

What Countries Criminalize Religious Conversion?

by Bill Hayes

In What Countries Criminalize Religious Conversion?, In Custodia Legis, the blog for the law librarians of Congress, looks at the criminalization of apostasy around the world.

A recent case in Sudan in which Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a citizen who was at the time expecting her second child, was convicted of apostasy (renunciation of a religious faith) and adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging has led to condemnation around the world.  Her conviction was due to her leaving Islam, marrying a Christian man, and refusing to recant.  Amnesty International, which called Ibrahim’s sentence abhorrent, together with over 600,000 of its supporters, called for her immediate release.  A group of United Nations human rights experts condemned the sentence, noting that the trial violated due process principles.  The U.S. State Department called the death sentence deeply disturbing.  A resolution condemning the sentence was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and a similar resolution was adopted in the U.S. Senate.  Although, in what appears to be a response to the mounting pressure from the international community, the Sudanese government initially said that Ibrahim would be released, it quickly retracted the statement and Ibrahim’s case continues to unfold before an appeals court. [more]

For a free, related classroom lesson, see Blasphemy! Salman Rushdie and Freedom of Expression from our Bill of Rights in Action Archive.