Sudan: Death-sentence Christian mother goes free

Meriam Ibrahim with husband Daniel Wani on their wedding day. The couple and their two children may end up in the US
Meriam Ibrahim with husband Daniel Wani on their wedding day. The couple and their two children may end up in the US
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A WOMAN who was sentenced to death in Sudan for being a Christian was released last night but immediately rushed to a safe house amid fears for her safety.

Meriam Ibrahim was freed after four months in jail during which time she gave birth to a daughter while in shackles. She also had her 20-month-old son by her side in her cell.

After leaving the prison, she was taken to an undisclosed location because her half-brother has vowed to kill her for breaching Sudan’s strict sharia law.

Ms Ibrahim, 27, had been in custody since February after a court found her guilty of apostasy and adultery – her punishment would have included 100 lashes.

An international outcry ensued. Many governments, including those of Britain and the United States, were joined by the likes of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and actress Mia Farrow in calling for her to be freed.

Ms Ibrahim, a doctor, now faces an uncertain future, as her husband, Daniel Wani, is a naturalised US citizen and their two children could apply to become Americans. Mr Wani said he was looking forward to seeing his wife and wanted to get her out of Sudan as fast as possible.

For now, she is at an undisclosed location because of the threats to her life by her half- brother Al Samani al-Hadi Mohamed Abdullah.

According to religious freedom group Hardwired, which has campaigned for Ms Ibrahim’s release, she will be meeting representatives from the American embassy in Sudan today to discuss a potential move to the US.

Safwan Abobaker, an activist with Hardwired, which is based in the US, said: “It’s better for Meriam to come to America now.

“The Sudanese government needs to protect Meriam and the US embassy in Sudan needs to find a way of bringing her to America quickly.

“The US government needs to grant Meriam asylum or find a way to let her come to America right away. She needs to come to America.”

Ms Ibrahim was jailed in May for marrying her husband because the court in the capital, Khartoum, refused to recognise the 2011 marriage, as her father was a Muslim.

The judge ruled that even though her father had left her family when she was six years old and she was subsequently raised as a Christian, she should still worship Islam.

Ms Ibrahim was still in the notorious Omdurman Women’s Prison when she gave birth to her daughter, Maya, just 12 days after the verdict. As news of her fate spread, 1.5 million people signed petitions calling for her release, including 900,000 on one set up by human rights campaign group Amnesty.

US secretary of state John Kerry expressed his deep concern for her welfare, as did the United Nations.

The pressure now appears to have paid off and after promising to free Ms Ibrahim once before, the Sudanese government said it would wait for the appeal court’s decision, which was to overturn her conviction.

Ms Ibrahim’s lawyer, Mohamed Mostafa, said his client had been sent “to an unknown house to stay at for her protection and security”.

He said: “Her family had been threatened before and we are worried that someone might try to harm her.”

Mr Wani’s brother Gabriel, who lives in New Hampshire, said: “I need to call my brother to find out what is happening.

“Knowing him, he will want to bring her back to America as soon as he can. I hope he can do that.”

US congressmen have called for Ms Ibrahim to be granted asylum in the US.