"We want to see freedom for all of the people of Sudan." -- Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- A Christian woman sentenced to death by a Sudanese court after refusing to recant her faith has at last been permitted to depart Sudan. According to the BCC, Meriam Yahya Ibrahim has flown to Italy with her family and the Italian vice-minister of foreign affairs, where she met with Pope Francis earlier today. The family will travel to the United States, where Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a citizen.
Ibrahim, raised a Christian by her mother and the daughter of a Muslim father, was charged with apostasy and adultery for marrying a South Sudanese Christian man. The government of Sudan considers all Sudanese-born children of a Muslim father to automatically be Muslim themselves. Acquitted by an appeals court, Ibrahim was released but then re-arrested at the Khartoum airport as she attempted to depart the country. After she was released on bail, Ibrahim and her family found sanctuary at the U.S. embassy.
Ibrahim's death sentence sparked international outrage, inflamed by reports of her childbirth in shackles.
IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:
"We are so happy that Meriam is free! We thank all those advocates around the world who have fought and prayed for Meriam, especially the Italian government and members of the U.S. Congress who were diligent in their attention to this courageous woman's plight.
"The Sudanese regime must not be allowed to believe that the story ends here. We want to see freedom for all of the people of Sudan. Muslims, Christians, and those of traditional religions all suffer under Sharia law. And Sudan has not stopped its genocidal warfare against the people of the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile State, Darfur, and elsewhere.
"We pray that Meriam, Daniel, Martin, and Maya can now have a time of rest and of physical and emotional healing from their trauma, and get on to being a family."