Today is a cause for celebration, for Meriam Ibrahim has finally been set free.
When brought to court in May, the Sudanese woman refused to renounce her Christian faith and “re-convert” to Islam. This led to her conviction of apostasy – abandonment of religious belief – and she was sentenced to death by hanging. Additionally, the court found her guilty of adultery–a crime worthy of 100 lashes. At the time, she was eight months pregnant.
Two weeks later, while in a Khartoum jail cell, Ibrahim gave birth to her daughter, Maya. Her 18-month-old son, Martin, remained with her in prison as well.
According to her attorney, Mohaned Mustafe El-Nour, she was discharged from prison after an appeals court realized their initial judgment was unjustified.
Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, holds dual U.S.-Sudanese citizenship. As a child, Wani sought refuge in the United States, fleeing the civil war brewing in southern Sudan. He later returned to his home country.
Their hope is to make their children U.S. citizens as well. Yet, due to his Christian faith, Wani is not allowed custody of his son since the boy is considered Muslim.
Ibrahim says she became a Christian as a child, adopting the faith of her Ethiopian mother, who raised her. Her father, a Muslim, abandoned her family when she was young. Ibrahim later married Wani in 2011; and together, they run multiple businesses.
The 27-year-old woman first gained the court’s attention when she was arrested in August 2013, charged with adultery. She was later accused of apostasy in February 2014 after refusing to recant her Christian faith.
“I am a Christian, and I never committed apostasy,” Ibraham assured the judge.
Via Fox News:
Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, which is punishable by death. Muslim women in Sudan are further prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, although Muslim men are permitted to marry outside their faith. Children, by law, must follow their father’s religion.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which gathered some 320,000 signatures in an online petition for Ibrahim, praised the decision but called for the U.S. to help her.
“Her release from a Sudanese prison is a critical step toward securing her freedom and safety,” said ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow. “We now call on the Obama Administration to examine all possibilities to ensure that Meriam and her two American children are granted safe passage and immediate legal status in the United States.”
Upon her release, Ibrahim was taken to a confidential site for refuge. Her lawyers will meet with representatives from the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday.