Nada & Hamouda

Name(s): Nada (wife) and Hamouda (husband)

Country/Area of Origin: Gezira State, Sudan

Background: In 2018, Hamouda – then already married to Nada since 2016 – converted to Christianity, and because Sudanese law prohibits marriages between Muslim women and Christian men, the couple was under pressure from Nada’s Muslim family to initiate a divorce to prevent them from being punished.

Reason for Arrest:

In 2021, while separated from her husband and living again with her family, Nada too became a follower of Christ; she revealed that the nation’s recent decision to decriminalize apostasy (faith conversion) encouraged her to freely choose her new faith.

In August 2021, Nada and Hamouda reunited, as her conversion to Christianity allowed her to be married to a Christian man. In response, Nada’s Muslim family filed a criminal case against the couple, alleging that Nada’s conversion to Christianity was illegitimate and therefore the couple’s marriage is invalid. Prior to Nada’s return to Hamouda, her brother had threatened that he would take action to punish her and her husband for their actions.

Nada and Hamouda are currently facing charges of adultery for their ‘invalid’ marriage, and the punishment stipulated for such a crime is 100 lashes and Hamouda’s possible exile for a year’s time.

Nada’s and Hamouda’s defense argument includes that they believe their marriage annulment to be unlawful as the couple was under pressure to initiate divorce. Moreover, at the time that the marriage was dissolved in 2018, Nada would not have been able to convert to Christianity to maintain their marriage (or even just because she wanted to follow Christ) as apostasy remained illegal until July 2020.

Latest Updates:

  • 13 May 2022: During Nada and Hamouda’s 12 May court hearing, a pastor testified in defense of the couple, noting that because they are both Christian converts, they remain legally married “despite being forced to divorce in an Islamic court.” Regrettably, however, this pastor was the only defense witness heard. Nada and Hamouda’s next court hearing will take place on 7 June 2022.
  • 11 May 2022: Middle East Concern reported that Nada and Hamouda’s court hearing was officially set for 12 May 2022.
  • Numerous organizations and activists have spoken out regarding Nada’s and Hamouda’s case:
    • “I lied the painful experience of [being] a Christian woman shackled in prison because of my faith. It saddens me that even after the decriminalization of apostasy, the courts still fail to protect religious minorities, especially Christian converts. There are many others out there who suffer like Nada and Hamouda because they are targeted for their faith. Sudan must protect religious freedom and all those who wish to exercise it. The international community must speak out on Nada an Hamouda’s behalf, as they did in my case”.Mariam Ibraheem, survivor of Sudanese apostasy laws
    • “We call for the immediate dismissal of charges against this couple, and urge further legal reform to ensure that the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to change one’s religion or belief, is fully guaranteed to every Sudanese citizen. The fact that these cases are being prosecuted in the context of the military coup and a state of emergency illustrates the military’s objective of systematically obstructing and reversing the progressive advances made during the transitional period.” Mervyn Thomas, Founder & President, Christian Solidarity Worldwide