Laws which forbid apostasy are controversial in the 21st century to say the least. They epitomize the idea of thought-policing, not allowing people to change their mind on religion for fear of imprisonment or even death.
While apostasy is normally thought to be the act of leaving one’s faith, there appear to be other interpretations as well. Sudan has reportedly charged 27 Muslims with apostasy even though they have not renounced their Islamic faith but instead are alleged to be “Quranists”—Muslims who follow the Quran as their only guide and do not recognize the Hadith, an additional guide to most Muslims.
Under Sudanese law, the accused could face the death penalty if they are convicted.
Their lawyer told AFP that investigators told the court that five of the defendants were arrested at a market last month for talking about their belief that the Quran is the only source for religion and that they don’t recognize the Hadith. The rest of the accused were arrested the following day for the same reason.
He added that they are also accused of disrupting public order.
If convicted, the international community may rally behind them to have the sentences overturned, as has happened in the past.
Sudan was thrust into the international spotlight last year after sentencing a young mother, Mariam Ibrahim, to death for changing her faith from Islam to Christianity. After international uproar, the sentence was overturned and she moved to the US.
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