Meriam Ibrahim, Sentenced to Death in Muslim Sudan for ‘Apostasy’, Free and Alive with Her Family in America
August 5, 2014
Sometimes the news that makes headlines is good news; sometimes this story has a happy ending:
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence arrived Thursday in the United States, where she was welcomed first by the mayor of Philadelphia as a “world freedom fighter” and later by cheering supporters waving American flags in New Hampshire.
Meriam Ibrahim flew from Rome to Philadelphia with her husband and two children, en route to Manchester, where her husband has family and where they will make their new home. Her husband, Daniel Wani, his face streaked with tears, briefly thanked New Hampshire’s Sudanese community on his family’s behalf and said he appreciated the outpouring of support.
Throughout much of her pregnancy, she had been in prison in Khartoum, capital of the Republic Sudan, living with the dread expectation that she would be hanged once her baby was born. Her crime was that she had married a Christian and been accused by the authorities of apostasy, renouncing her faith, even though she maintained she had never been a Muslim in the first place. On Thursday, Meriam Ibrahim’s eight-month ordeal finally ended when she was flown out of the country to Rome where she, and her new baby daughter, met the Pope in the Vatican.
Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an Orthodox Christian. She married Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in 2011. Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims. By law, children must follow their fathers’ religions.
Sudan initially blocked Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. The family took refuge at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum.
. . .
Ibrahim’s husband, who previously lived in New Hampshire, had been granted U.S. citizenship when he fled to the United States as a child to escape civil war, but he later returned and was a citizen of South Sudan.
They spent the previous week in Rome after being spirited out of Sudan in the dead of night on an Italian state aircraft.
Meriam and baby Maya, who was born while her mother [was] shackled in prison, were blessed by Pope Francis who thanked her for her courage and praised her ‘courageous witness to faith’.
The brave mother said she was a little anxious about the new start.
Daniel, a trained chemist, lost his job while in Sudan supporting his wife through her ordeal in prison so they will be reliant on their extended family, at least at first.
. . .
The entire four will be cramped into Daniel’s one person apartment in Manchester.
She said: ‘I’m a bit scared to leave Rome. We have been very happy here. We have felt like a real family.’
She said that they had toured the city as they waited for the final arrangements to be made for their travel, including an emotional trip to the ancient Roman amphitheatre where thousands of Christians were martyred for their faith.
. . .
A month ago Meriam was released but was detained again on the way to the airport pending fresh legal proceedings.
After weeks at the US Embassy amid tense negotiations between the Italian and Sudanese authorities she was released and flown to Rome immediately.
The Daily Mail has more, including a lot of pictures.
Hat tip to PUMA by Design, who adds,
For the Ibrahim family, may the road ahead be smooth and forever blessed.
Amen, and God bless Italy for getting them out of there.
Paul Vallely at the Independent reminds us that for thousands of others, there may not be a happy ending, not in this world.
He goes on. It always will, perhaps, in this world.
Please pray for Asia Bibi. You can learn more about her and other Christians facing prison, execution, or other persecution from the Voice of the Martyrs, or go to the Wikipedia article, which has links to many news stories about her case.