Meriam Ibrahim, Sentenced to Death in Muslim Sudan for ‘Apostasy’, Free and Alive with Her Family in America

August 5, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim and her husband, Daniel Wani

Sometimes the news that makes headlines is good news; sometimes this story has a happy ending:

“Meriam Ibrahim, Sudan Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith, Receives Hero’s Welcome In U.S.”

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.

From the UK Independent:

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.

The AP again:

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.

From the UK Daily Mail:

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.

“Christians: The world’s most persecuted people”

One woman, at least, is safe. . . .

But it has been a different story for the 3,000 Christians of Mosul who were driven from their homes in northern Iraq last week by Islamist fanatics who broadcast a fatwa from the loudspeakers of the city’s mosques ordering them to convert to Islam, submit to its rule and pay a religious levy, or be put to death if they stayed. The last to leave was a disabled woman who could not travel. The fanatics arrived at her home and told her they would cut off her head with a sword.

Most people in the West would be surprised by the answer to the question: who are the most persecuted people in the world? According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians.

The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians now die every year, targeted because of their faith — that is 11 every hour. The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, almost three-quarters of the world’s nations.

All this seems counter-intuitive here in the West where the history of Christianity has been one of cultural dominance and control ever since the Emperor Constantine converted and made the Roman Empire Christian in the 4th century AD.

Yet the plain fact is that Christians are languishing in jail for blasphemy in Pakistan, and churches are burned and worshippers regularly slaughtered in Nigeria and Egypt, which has recently seen its worst anti-Christian violence in seven centuries.

. . .

The most violent anti-Christian pogrom of the early 21st century saw as many as 500 Christians hacked to death by machete-wielding Hindu radicals in Orissa, India, with thousands more injured and 50,000 made homeless. . . .

Persecution is increasing in China; and in North Korea a quarter of the country’s Christians live in forced labour camps after refusing to join the national cult of the state’s founder, Kim Il-Sung. . . .

. . . The former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks told the House of Lords recently that the suffering of Middle East Christians is “one of the crimes against humanity of our time”. He compared it with Jewish pogroms in Europe and said he was “appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked”.

He goes on.  It always will, perhaps, in this world.

Asia BibiPlease 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.

Hat tip to Faith at the Cross Roads and Catholic radio news.

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