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Christian in Sudan sentenced to death for faith; 'I'm just praying,' husband says

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(CNN) -- Hours after a Sudanese court sentenced his pregnant wife to death when she refused to recant her Christian faith, her husband told CNN he feels helpless.

"I'm so frustrated. I don't know what to do," Daniel Wani told CNN on Thursday. "I'm just praying."

This week a Khartoum court convicted his wife, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith.

Ibrahim is Christian, her husband said. But the court considers her to be Muslim.

The court also convicted her of adultery and sentenced her to 100 lashes because her marriage to a Christian man is considered void under Sharia law.

The court gave her until Thursday to recant her Christian faith -- something she refused to do, according to her lawyer.

During Thursday's sentencing hearing, a sheikh told the court "how dangerous a crime like this is to Islam and the Islamic community," said attorney Mohamed Jar Elnabi, who's representing Ibrahim.

"I am a Christian," Ibrahim fired back, "and I will remain a Christian."

Her legal team says it plans to appeal the verdict, which drew swift condemnation from human rights organizations around the world.

In the meantime, Ibrahim, who is eight months' pregnant, remains in prison with her 20-month-old son.

"She is very strong and very firm. She is very clear that she is a Christian and that she will get out one day," Elnabi told CNN from Sudan.

Ibrahim was born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left when she was 6 years old, and Ibrahim was raised by her mother as a Christian.

However, because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her to be the same, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

The case, her lawyer said, started after Ibrahim's brother filed a complaint against her, alleging that she had gone missing for several years and that her family was shocked to find she had married a Christian man.

A family divided

The court's ruling leaves a family divided, with Ibrahim behind bars and her husband struggling to survive, Elnabi said.

Police blocked Wani from entering the courtroom on Thursday, Elnabi said. Lawyers appealed to the judge, but he refused, Elnabi said.

Wani uses a wheelchair and "totally depends on her for all details of his life," Elnabi said.

"He cannot live without her," said the lawyer.

The couple's son is having a difficult time in prison.

"He is very affected from being trapped inside a prison from such a young age," Elnabi said. "He is always getting sick due to lack of hygiene and bugs."

Ibrahim is having a difficult pregnancy, the lawyer said. A request to send her to a private hospital was denied "due to security measures."

There also is the question of the timing of a potential execution.

In past cases involving pregnant or nursing women, the Sudanese government waited until the mother weaned her child before executing any sentence, said Christian Solidarity Worldwidespokeswoman Kiri Kankhwende.

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