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Meriam Yahia Ibrahim
IMPRISONED: February 2014
RELEASED: July 2014
CASE: Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian, was sentenced to death for apostasy on Sunday 11 May 2014. She was detained with her son (20 months old at the time) and gave birth to a baby daughter while in prison. Her sentence also included 100 lashes for adultery (the government does not recognise her marriage to a Christian man. The court implied that her sentence could be annulled or reduced if she recant her Christian faith, but she is determined not to do so.
Meriam was released from prison on 23 June, but there is still conflict over her travel documents.
11 May 2015: One year later, Meriam reveals how she was pressured to deny Christ
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian mother who was sentenced to death for apostasy on Sunday 11 May 2014 in the Republic of Sudan, revealed Thursday (7 May 2015) on the National Day of Prayer that she was heavily pressured by guards for three days straight to deny Christ, but refused each time.
Ibrahim spoke at the Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast in southeastern Virginia with the American Center for Law and Justice, a law group that has been campaigning in a number of Christian persecution cases.
"Meriam revealed how she refused to waver in her faith in Christ, believing God would save her even as she was shackled in chains and sentenced to 100 lashes and death. Making matters worse, her infant son was in prison with her and she was pregnant with another child at the time — forced to give birth while shackled in chains," said in an article ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow, who introduced Ibrahim at the Virginia event.
"In the face of persecution and told by Sudanese officials that she could avoid a death sentence if she renounced her Christian faith, Meriam stood strong and refused to reject her faith. For three consecutive days, she was told to renounce Christ. For three consecutive days, she refused."
Sudan's government sentenced Ibrahim to death in 2014 for crimes of apostasy and adultery for marrying Daniel Wani, an American Christian citizen. Intense international pressure forced the Sudanese court to clear the Christian mother of the charges, and though she was later detained again on the charge of carrying a false passport, she was eventually allowed to leave Sudan and come to America with her family.
While in prison, Ibrahim gave birth to her second child while in chains, and took care of her young son.
The Christian mother has since shared her testimony on a number of occasions, and revealed it was her faith that allowed her to get through the difficult times in prison.
"Faith means life. If you don't have faith, you are not alive," Ibrahim said in an interview in September 2014. She added that her faith was the "only weapon" she used to survive the ordeal.
Ibrahim has been honored by Christian institutions such as the National Religious Broadcasters, who back in February presented her with the President's Award for showing "what it means to not be ashamed of Christ."
"Mariam Ibraheem is a modern-day example of what it means to not be ashamed of Christ," NRB President and CEO Jerry A. Johnson said. "We are honored to welcome her to NRB15 as we rejoice with her over God's protective care in her life."
The ACLJ was one of the many organizations to draw attention to Ibrahim's plight while in prison, and gathered 600,000 signatures for a petition in her support.
"At today's event, Meriam had a powerful message on this National Day of Prayer. She revealed that while on death row, she said she could feel people praying for her around the world — prayers that were critical in helping her survive," Sekulow added.
"Finally, she reminded us that her and her family are now on the path to start a new life in the United States. There are challenges ahead. They lost a successful business in Sudan and now are working to create a life for their family here."
The ACLJ executive director revealed that Ibrahim and Wani also shared prayers for pastor Saeed Abedini, the U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his faith, who on Thursday marked his 35th birthday in jail.
18 September 2014: "Faith was the only weapon I had" says Meriam Ibrahim
After almost being martyred in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith a few months ago, global Christian icon Meriam Ibrahim, 27, is breathing easier now and smiling.
"Faith means life. If you don't have faith, you are not alive," said Meriam Ibrahim when asked if she was afraid of dying for her faith.
In her first public interview since arriving in the U.S. with her two children and husband, Ibrahim revealed how she was able to survive after being placed on death row in Sudan for her Christian beliefs and her response was simple — "faith. "It was the "only weapon" she used to survive the ordeal. And she believed it was all she needed. She believed God would be sure to deliver her. And He did.More than 12,000 kilometers away from Sudan where her life was being demanded, Ibrahim is now free to practice her faith and enjoy her family at her new home in Manchester, New Hampshire. And eventually, she hopes to get involved in getting help for the persecuted people of Sudan and promote religious freedom."I would like to help the people in Sudan and Africa, especially women and children and to promote freedom of religion," she said near the end of an interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Monday night through a translator.
Ibrahim's story became a global cause célèbre when she was sentenced to death by hanging while pregnant after she was found guilty by Sudanese officials of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen earlier this year.Sudanese officials insisted she was a Muslim and claimed that it was illegal for her to marry Wani, but she maintained Monday that she was never a Muslim.
"I was never a Muslim. I have always been a Christian. If you are a Christian and you convert to Islam, it becomes hard to leave Islam; because if you do so, you will be subjected to the death penalty," she explained.
In May, Ibrahim gave birth to her daughter, Maya, in a Sudanese prison while in shackles. "Maya was born under difficult circumstances. I was supposed to give birth at a hospital but they denied that request. When it was time to give birth they refused to remove the chains from my ankles, so I had to give birth in chains. It was difficult," she said."I had my faith in God. I knew that God would help me, that God knew that I was a victim of injustice. It is my right to practice the religion I choose," she asserted.
She continued: "I was given three days (to renounce Christianity). While I was in prison, some people came to visit me from the Muslim scholars association. These were Imams that created an intervention by reciting parts of the Quran for me. I faced a tremendous amount of pressure."Ibrahim, however, didn't budge."I had my trust in God. My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with the Imams and Muslim scholars because that's what I believe," she said.
When asked why she didn't convert to Islam to save her life, Ibrahim said she couldn't because apart from just standing up for her faith, she wanted to draw attention to the plight of Christians in Sudan."If I did that that would mean that I gave up. It's not possible because it's not true. It's my right to follow the religion of my choice. I'm not the only one suffering from this problem. There are many Meriams in Sudan and throughout the world, it's not just me. I am not the only one," she emphasized."I put my life at risk for the women of Sudan. I was close to them and I felt their suffering. I share with them the difficult circumstances in prison and life in general. With regard to the situation of Christians, this is a well-known fact that they live under difficult circumstances and they are persecuted and treated harshly. They are afraid to say that they are Christians out of fear of persecution," she added.
Ibrahim's sentence was eventually appealed and overturned, and she was allowed to leave Sudan alive with her family due in part to public pressure that prompted the U.S. State Department to take action. Ibrahim was subsequently released to Italian officials in July before entering the U.S.
SOURCE: Christian Post
1 August 2014: The ordeal is over: Meriam Ibrahim and family en route to America
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, husband Daniel Wani, and their two children, Martin and Maya, have boarded a plane for the United States. Flying from Rome to Philadelphia, en route to Manchester, New Hampshire, the Ibrahims are expected to be received by a community that-for months-has eagerly awaited their arrival.
Zakaria Aging, a Sudanese national who fled to the United States in 2000, told CNN earlier this month, "We can't wait to see them, so many people have been waiting...you can't imagine how many people will be at the airport."
Wani, who holds dual U.S. and South Sudanese citizenship, fled with his brother-also expected to receive the family later today-to Manchester in the late 1990s as a political asylum seeker. Ibrahim and Wani married in 2011 after meeting in Sudan on one of Wani's regular trips to the East African nation.
When in Rome, Ibrahim told La Repubblica, "My husband...lost his job because of my event. Now we will go to New Hampshire where my brother-in-law Gabriel lives. They will help us. We will be all together as a true family."
An international non-profit has, at the request of the State Department, put together a media tour for the family in Washington, D.C., though it remains unclear as to whether the family holds any interest in participating or when it will take place. During their stay in Italy, the Ibrahims visited with Pope Francis, fulfilling a "lifelong dream" of Ibrahim's, who later commented, "I have always wanted and only wanted my faith."
Questions have been raised regarding the immigration status of the family as the State Department has not yet confirmed the citizenship of the Ibrahims' two children.
Cameron Thomas, ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, said, "We are pleased to know that Meriam, Daniel, and their two children, Martin and Maya are making their way to a new life, free from religious persecution. While we applaud the U.S. in welcoming the Ibrahims with open arms, we recognize that this administration failed to speak Meriam's name publicly at any point prior to her departure from Sudan, to confirm the citizenship of a toddler who subsequently spent 126 days in a Sudanese prison where, on average, one child dies every week in custody, and to secure the family's safe departure, which the government of Italy ultimately mediated. While today is a day to celebrate, it's also a day to remember Pastors Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae, both American Christians who continue to suffer in the shadows of repressive regimes bent on eliminating any semblance of religious freedom in their respective countries."
SOURCE: International Christian Concern
28 July 2014: Meriam Ibrahim to Arrive in New Hampshire
Meriam Ibrahim, a young Christian mother from Sudan who refused to renounce her faith even after she was placed on death row for it, is expected to fly from Rome to New Hampshire with her family this week to settle in Manchester, her brother-in-law said.
After arriving in the United States, Ibrahim's family is likely to visit Washington, D.C. first to thank those who contributed to their release, The Associated Press reports, quoting her brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, who lives in Manchester with his wife and their three daughters. Ibrahim and her family — her husband, Daniel Wani, their son, Martin, and their daughter, Maya, who was born in prison in Sudan just two months ago — will settle in Manchester, which is home to a Sudanese Christian community and church.
Ibrahim and her family flew from Sudan to Italy last Thursday, and Gabriel has spoken with her family by phone several times since then. Ibrahim's husband, Daniel, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. "His plan all along was to bring his family to New Hampshire," Gabriel told KSAT 12. "I was crying. He said they were coming to New Hampshire. This is his place now," Gabriel said of a phone call he received from his brother.
Members of the southern Sudanese community in Manchester plan to receive Ibrahim's family at the airport, and the Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church is preparing to host a welcome reception for them. Since Ibrahim's release, southern Sudanese people have been visiting Gabriel's home. "A lot of people have been waiting for them," Gabriel was quoted as saying. "The whole community wants to welcome them."
The two brothers and their sister, Mary, were among the first southern Sudanese refugees to resettle in Manchester. Daniel is board chairman of the South Sudan Community of New Hampshire, a nonprofit that provides translators, English classes, tuition for children and outreach services.
While Ibrahim's death sentence was overturned by a court a few weeks ago, she was arrested again on June 24 while she and her family were trying to leave Sudan to go to the United States. She was eventually released and allowed to leave the country.
Ibrahim was convicted on April 30, and was given three days to recant her Christian faith on May 11. "The court has sentenced you to be hanged until you are dead," Judge Abaas Al Khalifa told her on May 15 after she refused to forsake Christianity.
Ibrahim was accused by her Muslim relatives, and sent to jail on Feb. 17. She was kept at the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North Khartoum with her son.
Ibrahim's father was a Sudanese Muslim who left her when she was just 6 years old. She was raised by her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox. However, Sudan's Islamic law recognized her as a Muslim because her father was one. It also considered her relationship with her Christian husband as "illicit."
After her release and departure from Sudan, Ibrahim met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta, accompanied by her husband and two children, according to the Official Vatican Network, NEWS.VA. Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who helped arrange her flight from Sudan and traveled with her to Italy, was also present at the meeting.
Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, head of the Vatican Press Office, said the meeting happened in a "very serene and affectionate" environment. Pope Francis praised Ibrahim for her "courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith."
24 JULY 2014: Meriam and family arrive in Italy!
According to BBC News, Meriam Ibrahim has flown to Italy after more than a month in the US embassy in Khartoum.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and her family were met in Rome by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who said: "Today is a day of celebration."
The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says there was no prior indication of Italy's involvement in the case.
Lapo Pistelli, Italy's vice-minister for foreign affairs, accompanied her on the flight from Khartoum and posted a photo of himself with Mrs Ibrahim and her children on his Facebook account as they were about to land in Rome.
"Mission accomplished," he wrote.
A senior Sudanese official told Reuters news agency that Sudan's government had approved her departure in advance.
According to Aljazeera, the flight to Italy is a stop en route to the US.
The Telegraph added the following information: "The [Italian] deputy minister said Pope Francis had expressed “his gratitude and joy” when he was informed of Ms Ibrahim’s arrival. The Vatican confirmed that she and her family would meet the pontiff, most likely on Thursday afternoon, before they transferred to the US in a few days."
22 JULY 2014: Appeal Challenging Meriam Ibrahim's Acquittal Filed with Sudanese Supreme Court
A British-based human rights group is reporting that Meriam Ibrahim's alleged family has filed an appeal with the Sudanese Supreme Court, challenging the Court of Appeal decision to quash her death sentence for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery.
According to a news release from Christians Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), although the appeal has been filed, the Supreme Court has yet to determine whether it will be accepted.
Sudanese criminal procedures state that an appeal of a decision of the Appeal Court can be made by an interested party, but it is up to the Supreme Court to determine whether the individual has the necessary legal standing to do so. If the Supreme Court accepts the appeal, it will then review the Appeal Court decision. Usually, this process can take up to three months.
On June 23, the Appeal Court overturned the decision of the Public Order Court in El Haj Yousif, Khartoum to sentence Ibrahim to death for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery, as prescribed in articles 146 and 126 of Sudan's Penal Code.
The Appeal Court also recognized Ibrahim's marriage to Daniel Wani, and ordered her immediate release.
CSW said Ibrahim was born in western Sudan to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left the family when she was six years old, and she was subsequently brought up as a Christian by her mother.
The case against Ibrahim began after her alleged family members made Sudanese authorities aware of her marriage to Wani, a Christian with joint Sudanese and American citizenship.
Morning Star News reported that Ibrahim testified before the court on March 4 that she is a lifelong Christian, producing her marriage certificate, where she is classified as Christian, as evidence.
CSW said three potential witnesses from western Sudan who went to court to testify of Ibrahim's lifelong commitment to Christianity were prohibited from giving evidence.
On June 24, one day after her acquittal and release from prison, both Ibrahim and Wani were detained by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum Airport. They were later arrested and charged with forgery and provision of false information under article 123 and 97 of the 1991 Criminal Code, due to alleged irregularities with her tra vel documents.
Both Ibrahim and Wani are out on bail pending further action on these charges. They are not allowed to leave the country while criminal charges are pending.
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in the news release, "We urge the prosecutor to drop the criminal charges against Mrs. Ibrahim and her husband, which have no legal basis, and to allow them to leave the country unhindered."
He added, "CSW continues to call upon the Sudanese authorities to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief for all its citizens, as guaranteed by article 38 of Sudan's own constitution as well as the international covenants to which Sudan is a signatory."
Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk.
4 July 2014: Meriam speaks about possible complications with baby
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman previously sentenced to death for apostasy, spoke up for the first time, sharing her fears for the health of a daughter born in extreme conditions in prison, and her concerns over an unknown future for her family.
"I gave birth chained. Not cuffs but chains on my legs. I couldn't open my legs so the women had to lift me off the table. I wasn't attached to the table," Ibrahim told CNN in a telephone call.
Doctors feared that the delivery circumstances could have permanent consequences on the newborn.
"I don't know in the future whether she'll need support to walk or not," Ibrahim added.
Ibrahim, who married a Christian South-Sudanese-American, was recently spared a death sentence for converting to Christianity. Only a day later, the 27-year-old and her family were arrested at Khartoum airport, while trying to leave the country with her family.
Ibrahim was detained because of using travel documents issued in South Sudan’s embassy.
In response to her new charges, Ibrahim insists that her travel documents are legit.
"How can my paperwork be wrong? My paperwork came from the embassy. It's 100% correct and it was approved by the South Sudan ambassador and the American ambassador," she said.
Ibrahim and her family were freed again on Thursday, Ibrahim’s lawyer told The Associated Press.
Since the release, her husband and children had all been staying at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum – granted on the condition that Ibrahim stays in Sudan.
The new mom’s location is not disclosed. "I’m currently in a safe place. It's definitely safe but not comfortable," Ibrahim told CNN.
Sudanese authorities faced huge international pressure over Ibrahim’s case. Last May, Washington and London summoned the Sudanese charge d'affaires, in protest against Ibrahim’s death sentence.
3 July 2014: Developments in Meriam's situation
Criminal charges of falsifying travel documents and providing false information loom over Meriam's head, as do a temporary ban on her ability to travel and an outstanding claim by her alleged Muslim family that she belongs in the custody and care of her half-brother, Al Samani Al Hadi Mohamed Abdullah.
In an interview with CNN following Meriam's release, Abdullah stated that if Meriam did not "repent and return to [her family's] Islamic faith and to the embrace of [her] family...she should be executed." He followed that statement with the accusation that "the law has failed to maintain [his family's] rights," and that Meriam's court-ordered acquittal and release is now "a matter of honor."
"Christians deface [Muslims'] honor," said Abdullah before threatening that "[Muslims] know how to take revenge for that."
So, though the staff of the US embassy have seen to meeting the needs of the Ibrahims throughout their time in safe-hiding, Meriam and Daniel have expressed frustrations over theirs and their children's involuntary stay in Sudan. Speaking again with CNN, Meriam lamented, "I left prison to bring together my children and settle down. I found myself in jail [days after being released] and now there are protests against me in the streets."
"To be honest, I'm really miserable," Meriam concluded.
With the Ibrahims safely under the protection of the United States, activists and advocates have had the opportunity to speak directly with Meriam regarding the conditions of her imprisonment. Not only was Meriam shackled for months to the floor of a group prison cell, forced to watch her then 20-month-old son fall ill and to worry for the health of her soon-to-be-born daughter, she was taunted by the Muslim cohort imprisoned alongside her.
In a recent interview, Meriam conveyed that during her imprisonment, "women in prison [were] saying all sorts of things, like: 'Don't eat the non-believer's food.'" Meriam added "even the officers in the prison would join in." Meriam also revealed that that she was forced to listen to religious leaders demand that she return to Islam, explaining that "a different sheikh [came] to speak to me every other time."
SOURCE: International Christian Concern
30 June 2014: Meriam "doing well" at US embassy
The husband of a Sudanese Christian woman facing threats after her apostasy death sentence was overturned has expressed relief that the family has been given refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum.
“Really, it’s good,” Daniel Wani, the American husband of Meriam Ibrahim, told news agency AFP by telephone, adding that embassy staff had been “very helpful and very nice”.
He said his wife and two children, who could be heard in the background, were doing well at the heavily guarded facility.
Ibrahim (27) went to the US embassy on Thursday after being detained at Khartoum airport as she tried to leave Sudan. Her arrest came just days after her release from death row.
Wani confirmed they had sought the embassy’s protection because of death threats against his wife.
A US state department spokesperson, Marie Harf, said the family were in a safe location and Sudan’s government had assured the US of their continued safety.
Wani has claimed that those who triggered the case against his wife, whom he married in 2011, were attempting to muscle in on her business interests, including a hair salon, mini-mart and agricultural land.
SOURCE: Mail & Guardian
27 June 2014: Meriam released to US embassy but not allowed to leave country
A Sudanese woman whose death sentence for renouncing Islam was overturned has been released from jail again, after she was detained at Khartoum airport on Tuesday. Meriam Ibrahim's lawyer, Muhannad Mustafa, said that she was currently in the US embassy with her family.
Mrs Ibrahim, 27, had been held at a police station in the capital, since Tuesday, when she was prevented from leaving the country along with her husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children. Daniel Wani is a Christian from South Sudan and is a US citizen. She had reportedly planned to travel to the US with her family.
According to Reuters news agency, quoting her lawyer, Mrs Ibrahim was released on the condition that she remains in Sudan. "Mariam was released after a guarantor was found, but, of course, she would not be able to leave the country," Mr Mustafa said.
"I would like to thank the Sudanese people and the Sudanese police," she told the BBC in an exclusive interview as she left custody. "I would like to thank those who stood beside me." Asked about her plans following her release, she said: "I will leave it to God. I didn't even have a chance to see my family after I got out of prison."
BBC correspondents say that now Sudan's intelligence agency is involved, Mrs Ibrahim's case is likely to be more difficult and complicated to resolve.
SOURCE: BBC News
26 June 2014: Meriam and family still detained in Sudan
Various reports are that Meriam Ibrahim and her family are still being detained in Sudan, on the grounds of 'fraud' charges relating to Meriam's travel documents. Latest reports from Wednesday 25 June was that the family was being held at a police station in Khartoum, but it is now believed that Meriam's husband (Daniel Wani) and their two children have been moved to the US embassy. Embassy staff are reported to be making sure that Meriam has what she needs while at the police station.
With Sudan's intelligence agency involved, the resolution of the charges could be complicated. The US and South Sudanese ambassadors have been summoned by the Sudan government to discuss the issue. The charges of document forgery can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
Meriam was carrying a South Sudanese travel document with an American visa, but Sudan does not recognise her as a South Sudanese citizen (as they do not recognise her marriage to her husband who holds South Sudanese citizenship).
25 June 2014: Meriam and family reportedly released from custody
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, her husband, Daniel Wani, and two children, Martin and Maya, have been released from the custody of security personnel following their arrest early on the 24th. The situation remains tense as the terms of the release have not been made clear nor has the Ibrahims' freedom to travel been confirmed.
Following their arrest by more than 40 National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) personnel at a Khartoum airport, Ibrahim, her husband, and two children have reportedly been released from what the BBC is calling a "brief" detention. According to Sudanese officials, Meriam was not able to provide sufficient documentation in attempting to leave the country, despite her alleged possession of a United States (U.S.) visa.
However, in speaking with Ibrahim's legal defense this morning, ICC was told they had been detained for "national security concerns." Additionally, ICC sources have speculated that the explanation for the arrest provided by the Sudanese government is simply a justification to prevent their departure from the country indefinitely. ICC sources have reported the family was set to travel to South Sudan, possibly en-route to their anticipated final destination: the U.S.
The arrest and detention followed Meriam's 126-day imprisonment on charges of adultery and apostasy. Those charges, and their respective sentences, were dropped following the Khartoum Court of Appeal's June 23 decision to overturn the verdict reached by Judge Abbas al-Khaleefa of the El Haj Yousif Public Order Court.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, "We are incredibly relieved to hear of Meriam, Daniel, Martin, and Maya's release; however, we remain justifiably cautious of the road ahead. In arbitrarily detaining Meriam and her family this morning, the al-Bashir regime has proven that it cannot be trusted to respect Meriam's innocence, as recognized by one of Sudan's highest courts just yesterday. It has become incredibly clear that the United States and international community must continue to pressure the Sudanese government on this case, and to use all means necessary to ensure their swift and safe removal from the country."
SOURCE: International Christian Concern
24 June 2014: Meriam rearrested at Khartoum airport
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman released from prison on Monday after worldwide protests at her death sentence for apostasy, has been arrested at Khartoum airport - after less than 24 hours of freedom.
The 27-year-old was arrested along with her American husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children, Martin, almost two, and Maya, two weeks old. Their lawyer, Elshareef Ali Mohammed, was with them at the time, and said they were given no reason for their detention. The arrest comes just hours after photos emerged of Ms Ibrahim smiling as she was reunited with her family.
A human rights group that has been working with Ms Ibrahim's lawyers said the family had been detained by National Security officials, apparently in relation to their travel plans. "They are being held at the airport by National Security officials over documentation issues and the US Embassy is trying to work it out," Tina Ramirez, director of Hardwired, told The Telegraph
Ms Ramirez believed that they were initially hoping to travel to South Sudan - now an independent country - as their paperwork to travel to the US is still being processed.
Mr Wani is an American citizen and supporters of the family, backed by the senators from his state of New Hampshire, have urged the US to grant a visa to Ms Ibrahim and citizenship to their two children.
A source suggested to AFP that Ms Ibrahim had the necessary travel documents to leave Sudan. "She has the right to leave the country," he said.
Ms Ibrahim was released from Omdurman women's prison on Monday afternoon after state media announced that the Supreme Court had annulled the sentence. She had spent six months in a jail cell, sentenced to execution by hanging for abandoning Islam, despite her protestations that she was raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her Muslim father left. Accompanied by her two children Ms Ibrahim was taken to a safe house in the Khartoum area on Monday afternoon. In Sudan, which imposes Sharia law, apostasy is a crime punishable by death – and earlier this month Ms Ibrahim’s own brother called for her execution unless she “returned” to Islam.
The May 15 sentence also included 100 lashes for adultery related to her marriage to Mr Wani, a Christian. Sudan does not recognise marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims.
The sentencing caused outrage around the world, and led to an international campaign to secure her freedom.
The first photos released after her release show Ms Ibrahim, dressed in a vivid green traditional Sudanese outfit, cradling Maya on her lap. Next to her, in his wheelchair, sits Mr Wani – an American-Sudanese citizen, who suffers from muscular dystrophy.
On Tuesday morning Al Sudani, a government-owned newspaper with good security sources, reported that the family was expected to leave Sudan within hours.
SOURCE: The Telegraph
23 June 2014: Meriam is free!
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for abandoning her Islamic faith, has been freed from jail, her lawyer has told the BBC.
Meriam Ibrahim's death penalty was overturned by an appeal court, the official Suna news agency reported.
She is married to a Christian man and was sentenced under Sharia law to hang for apostasy in May after refusing to renounce Christianity.
Her husband, Daniel Wani, said he was looking forward to seeing her. He wanted his family to leave Sudan as soon possible, Mr Wani told BBC Focus on Africa.
Daniel Wani visited his children at the prison near Khartoum. The couple got married in a church after meeting in 2011
The death sentence for Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who gave birth to a daughter in prison not long after she was convicted, sparked international outrage. "We are very very happy about this - and we're going to her now," Mrs Ibrahim's lawyer Elshareef Ali told BBC Focus on Africa.
"They have released her... she's on her way to home," he said. Mr Ali said Mrs Ibrahim had shown "extraordinary courage" during her ordeal.
"It's a victory for freedom of religion in Sudan... By Mariam's strong position, we believe that in the future no-one will be subjected to such a trial," he said.
The outcry generated by Meriam Ibrahim's case was difficult for the authorities to ignore. The government in Khartoum is already dealing with an economic crisis, and conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It simply does not need further ill-feeling - and it is worth pointing out that many of the most vocal opponents of the conviction were Sudanese, not foreigners.
In fact, Mrs Ibrahim's case looks like part of a recurring theme. In 2009 Lubna Hussein, dubbed the "trouser woman", was arrested for wearing "indecent clothing" in public - in her case a pair of loose green trousers. She was at risk of a public flogging. Eventually she was given a small fine, which was then paid on her behalf to set her free. In 2012, Intisar Sharif Abdullah was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, before she too was released without charge.
In every case, the authorities insist the justice system came to an independent decision, but many believe it bowed to public pressure.
3 June 2014: Meriam's release 'Not imminent,' husband says
Days after media reported that a Sudanese mother sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith was likely to be released soon, a spokesman from Sudan's Foreign Ministry as well as the woman's husband said only courts have the jurisdiction to decide.
Daniel Wani, the husband of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese mother who is in a prison with her 20-month-old son and newborn daughter, told CNN that only the appeals court can free his wife. "I'm not aware that any release is imminent," he said.
Foreign ministry spokesman Abubakar Al-Sidiq also said that only a ruling from an appeals court can secure her release.
The only other legal way is amnesty by President Omar al-Bashir, but that is not only unlikely but also possible only after the highest court upholds the sentencing.
Abdullah Alzareg, an under-secretary at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, had earlier said that Sudan guarantees religious freedom and vowed to protect the young mother, according to BBC.
In anticipation of Ibrahim's release, nearly 68,000 Americans so far have signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition urging the U.S. government to immediately grant refugee status to Ibrahim and her two children who are eligible for U.S. citizenship.
The young mother was convicted on April 30, and was given three days to recant her Christian faith on May 11. "The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead," Judge Abaas Al Khalifa finally told her on May 15 after she refused to forsake Christianity.
Ibrahim, who was accused by her Muslim relatives, has been kept at the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North Khartoum with her son since Feb. 17.
Ibrahim's father was a Sudanese Muslim who left her when she was just 6 years old. She was raised by her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox. However, Sudan's Islamic law recognized her as a Muslim because her father was one. It also considers her relationship with her Christian husband as "illicit."
However, according to law in Sudan, a death sentence cannot be executed until the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court ratify the ruling. Besides, Sharia law as practiced in Sudan does allow execution of pregnant women until two years after lactation.
"I am very much optimistic that the appeal court will reverse the death sentence issued by the primary court," the lawyer said earlier. The Sudanese constitution provides for religious conversion without restriction, he added.
Dr. Faisal Abdelrahman Taha, a Sudanese legal expert on international law, told Sudan Tribune that the apostasy law in its entirety is unconstitutional.
Amid uncertainties, Ibrahim continues to be strong in her faith, according to Wani, a U.S. citizen and also a Christian.
"There is pressure on her from Muslim religious leaders that she should return to the faith," Wani, who uses a wheelchair, was quoted as saying. "She said, 'How can I return when I never was a Muslim? Yes, my father was a Muslim, but I was brought up by my mother.'"
Wani said Ibrahim is a practicing Christian. "I know my wife. She's committed. Even last week, they brought in sheikhs and she told them, 'I'm pretty sure I'm not going to change my mind.'"
Wani is hopeful the appeal would lead to the court's ruling being overturned. "I'm hoping that, given the way people have come together around the world – which I want to thank them for," he said. "All the rights groups, all the broadcasters ... It's looking like it had an effect. Perhaps it will result in the judgment being overturned."
SOURCE: Christian Post
1 June 2014: Meriam to be released to nurse newborn before being executed
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that, according to an official in Khartoum, the government of Sudan intends to release Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a mother of two and wife to an American citizen, from death row for two years to nurse her newborn daughter, Maya, before carrying out her death sentence.
Under-secretary Abdullahi Alzareg of Sudan's foreign ministry told the BBC Saturday that Sudan "guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman."
According to both the BBC and The Washington Times, Sudan intends to release Ibrahim for a period of two years prior to carrying out her death sentence. No mention has been made as to whether Ibrahim's sentencing to 100 lashes for committing adultery in the eyes of Sudan's El Haj Yousif Public Order Court in Khartoum, will also be stayed until after the two-year period.
Likewise, the terms of Sudan's alleged intention to release Ibrahim from her cell at the Omdurman Federal Women's prison remain unclear as of the issuance of this release. No mention was made of the Sudanese government's intention to place Ibrahim under house arrest or to restrict her ability to travel freely.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman for the United Kingdom (U.K.) told The Guardian Saturday, "We are aware of and urgently seeking clarification from the Sudanese authorities of reports that Meriam Ibrahim, the mother facing the death penalty in Sudan, is to be freed."
According to The Telegraph, "A foreign ministry spokesman said that Meriam Ibrahim would be released and not face further charges." As Ibrahim will remain sentenced to death regardless of her being or not being released, it remains unclear as to what "further charges" the spokesman may or may not have been alluding to.
Ibrahim was arrested and detained by Sudan's Public Order Police on February 17. She was subsequently charged with adultery and apostasy on March 4 and was convicted of both charges on May 11. Upon being convicted, Ibrahim was allotted three to days to publicly recant her Christian faith or face sentencing. On May 15, Ibrahim refused to recant her faith and was sentenced to 100 lashes and death by Judge Abbas al-Khaleefa after stating before the court, "I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian."
As of the issuance of this release, Ibrahim, her 20-month old son, Martin and Maya, her daughter born in the prison's hospital wing at 3:30am May 27, remain imprisoned. Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, a South Sudanese Christian, United States (U.S.) citizen and resident of New Hampshire, told the BBC that Martin's "attitude has changed a lot." He elaborated, saying, "He [Martin] used to be a happy boy. When I went there, he just looked at me. No smile."
ICC's regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, "We are incredibly relieved to hear that an official of the government of Sudan has come stated the administration's intention to release Meriam in the coming days. We will continue, however, to apply pressure to the Sudanese government to acquit Meriam of all charges, the only available action in line with its claim to guarantee religious freedom. We remained concerned for Meriam's, baby Maya's, and Martin's health and look to the international community for leadership in ensuring the Ibrahim's, if released, are provided proper medical care and any and all assistance to ensure their safe return to their husband and father. Today is Meriam's 104th day in prison, we pray that tomorrow the count will end."
SOURCE: International Christian Concern
29 May 2014: Baby Maya a bittersweet gift
Meriam Ibrahim's U.S. citizen husband Daniel Wani told The Telegraph in a recent interview that he was angry at the treatment his wife received while she was in labor at the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North Khartoum, Sudan.
"They kept a chain on her legs. She is very unhappy about that," said Wani.
After the birth of the Christian couple's beautiful daughter, who they named Maya on Tuesday morning, Wani said local authorities initially refused to allow him to see his daughter, according to the Daily Mail, but they eventually allowed him in the prison and momentarily released his wife from her chains so they could have a moment with the child together.
The moment, however, is a bittersweet one for the parents, particularly Meriam who will not be able to watch her child grow up if the death sentenced meted out to her for believing in Jesus is carried out. The local courts have given her a two-year grace period to wean baby Maya before she is lashed 100 times then executed for her apostasy.
Meriam has been given the opportunity to stay alive through renouncing Christ and becoming a Muslim by an Islamic Sharia Judge but she has defiantly rejected the offer choosing to die instead.
"If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I'm not going to change my faith," she said in an earlier report.
"I refuse to change. I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live. I know I could stay alive by becoming a Muslim and I would be able to look after our family, but I need to be true to myself," she added.
SOURCE: Christian Post
28 May 2014: Meriam gives birth to baby girl in detention
Meriam Ibrahim, 27, who has been shackled in jail for the last four months, gave birth five days early in the hospital wing at the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North, Khartoum, according to a Daily Mail report.
"This is some good news in what has been a terrible ordeal for Meriam. I am planning to visit her with her husband Daniel later today. I think they are going to call the baby Maya," her lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa Elnour, told the Daily Mail.
Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging after she was found guilty of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen who currently resides in Manchester, New Hampshire. The birth of her baby now sets in motion a two year time frame for her to wean the baby to allow for her execution. She is also expected to be lashed 100 times before she is executed for her apostasy.
An Islamic Sharia Judge says Ibrahim can be spared the gallows if she publicly renounces her faith and become a Muslim once again. Despite the grim reality facing her, however, Ibrahim has remained steadfast in her faith, telling her husband in a recent conversation during a prison visit that she would rather die than renounce Christ.
"If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I'm not going to change my faith," she said.
"I refuse to change. I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live. I know I could stay alive by becoming a Muslim and I would be able to look after our family, but I need to be true to myself," she said.
Ibrahim's husband, Daniel, praised the strength of his wife and said she is stronger than he is because she didn't even "flinch" when she was sentenced to death.
"My wife is very, very strong. She is stronger than me. When they sentenced her to death I broke down and tears were streaming down my eyes. Our lawyers were passing me tissues. But she stayed strong. She did not flinch when she was sentenced. It was amazing to see, particularly because she is the one facing the death penalty," he explained.
Ibrahim's sentence has been rebuked by politicians and advocates from around the world and an Amnesty International petition launched last week calling for her release has been signed by more than 660,000 supporters.
SOURCE: Christian Post
27 May 2014: Meriam Ibrahim still being held in detention
According to Amnesty International, Meriam Ibrahim is still being held in detention with her 20-month-old son. She is expecting her second child next month. She needs medical care and the support of her family, but if her conditions don’t change she will give birth in prison.
“A date for Ibrahim's execution has not been announced” the organization wrote on its UK website. "The Criminal Code states that she must give birth first, and nurse her child for two years before her execution can go ahead. If Sudan does execute Meriam after this period, they will leave two young children motherless, as well as taking away Meriam's right to life.”
To sign a petition or write an email visit the Amnesty International website at:
21 May 2014: Meriam shackled while awaiting developments
The pregnant Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith has been spending her days shackled in prison, according to her husband.
Meriam Ibrahim, 26, who is eight months pregnant, was sentenced to death last Thursday after being convicted of apostasy. The court in Khartoum delayed carrying out the ruling until Ibrahim gives birth and nurses her newborn.
In the interim, she has been spending her days bound with shackles on her legs according to her husband, U.S. citizen Daniel Wani, a Christian, who was able to visit his wife for the first time on Monday.
“He originally was not allowed to see her until this week,” Tina Ramirez, executive director of Hardwired, a U.S.-based advocacy group against religious persecution, told FoxNews.com. “Once he was able to, she was shackled and her legs were swollen.”
Ramirez added that Ibrahim’s attorney is working on an appeal as international outrage over her persecution grows.
In addition, a statement from several attorneys associated with the Sudanese high court was released Monday, calling for an appeal of Ibrahim’s death sentence.
“The [Sudanese] government is afraid of the international attention,” Ramirez said. “They are paying attention and this [statement] is a sign of that.”
Ibrahim and Wani were married in a formal ceremony in 2011 and have an 18-month-old son, Martin, who is with her in jail. The couple operates several businesses, including a farm, south of Khartoum, the country’s capital.
Wani fled to the United States as a child to escape the civil war in southern Sudan, but later returned. He is not permitted to have custody of his son because the boy is considered Muslim and cannot be raised by a Christian man.
Ibrahim’s case first came to the attention of authorities in August, after members of her father’s family complained that she was born a Muslim but married a Christian man. The relatives claimed her birth name was “Afdal” before she changed it to Meriam and produced a document that indicated she was given a Muslim name at birth. Her attorney has alleged the document was a fake.
Ibrahim was initially charged with having illegitimate sex last year, but she remained free pending trial. She was later charged with apostasy and jailed in February after she declared in court that Christianity was the only religion she knew.
“I was never a Muslim,” she told the Sudanese high court. “I was raised a Christian from the start.”
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.
SOURCE: Fox News
18 May 2014: Meriam has a long legal battle ahead
Mohamed Jar Elnabi, the lawyer of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Christian woman who has a 20-month-old son and is eight months pregnant, says he plans to file an appeal application on Sunday.
The young mother was convicted on April 30, and given three days to recant her Christian faith on May 11. "The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead," Judge Abaas Al Khalifa finally told her Thursday after she refused to forsake Christianity.
Ibrahim has been kept at the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison with her son since Feb. 17.
Ibrahim's father was a Sudanese Muslim who left her when she was just 6 years old. She was raised by her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox. However, Sudan's Islamic law recognized her as a Muslim because her father was one. It also considers her relationship with her Christian husband as "illicit."
According to law in Sudan, a death sentence cannot be executed until the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court ratify the ruling. Besides, Sharia law as practiced in Sudan does allow execution of pregnant women until two years after lactation.
"I am very much optimistic that the appeal court will reverse the death sentence issued by the primary court," the lawyer told CNN.
The Sudanese constitution provides for religious conversion without restriction, he added.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim remains strong. "She is very strong and very firm. She is very clear that she is a Christian and that she will get out one day," the lawyer said.
But the wait is not easy for Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, as he "totally depends on her for all details of his life," Elnabi said. "He is very affected from being trapped inside a prison from such a young age. He is always getting sick due to lack of hygiene and bugs."
"I'm so frustrated. I don't know what to do," Wani was quoted as saying. "I'm just praying."
The religious atmosphere is tense in Sudan. Elnabi received a death threat Wednesday, the day before Ibrahim was sentenced. "I feel very scared," he was quoted as saying. "I live in fear if I just hear a door open or a strange sound in the street. I could never leave the case. This is a matter of belief and principles. I must help someone who is in need, even if it will cost me my life."
The sentencing has received condemnation from around the world.
"Handing the death sentence to a citizen just because she was raised as a Christian is unimaginable in today's world," Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission, said Friday in a statement. "Her marriage has also been declared as 'illicit' relationship, and she has been sentenced to flogging soon after she gives birth to a child. This is unthinkable brutality."
The court ruling is distortion of Islam and Sharia, "which are often used as an excuse for restricting rights," Yogarajah added. "Most Muslims believe the Qur'an is about justice, which is also the purpose of Sharia. The sentence does not serve this purpose."
Embassies of the United States, Britain, Canada and the Netherlands have also denounced the sentencing, urging the Sudanese government to intervene. "We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one's right to change one's faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution," they said in a statement.
"Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of 'most serious crimes' in relation to the death penalty," Amnesty International said in a statement. "It is a flagrant breach of international human rights law."
International faith-based aid agencies have been helping Christians flee persecution at the hands of the Islamic government in Sudan, after South Sudan gained independence in 2011.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has also found President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's Sudanese government to be guilty of "systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief."
SOURCE: Christian Post
16 May 2014: International media reports on Meriam's case
The following report appeared on BBC News (other international media sites like Aljazeera are now also reporting on the case).
A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy - the abandonment of her religious faith - after she married a Christian man.
Amnesty International condemned the sentence, handed down by a judge in Khartoum, as "appalling and abhorrent".
Local media report the sentence on the woman, who is pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.
Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law.
"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death," the judge told the woman, AFP reports.
Western embassies and rights groups had urged Sudan to respect the right of the pregnant woman to choose her religion.
The judge also sentenced the woman to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery - because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law.
This will reportedly be carried out when she has recovered from giving birth.
Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic cleric spoke with her in a caged dock for about 30 minutes, AFP reports.
Then she calmly told the judge: "I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy."
Amnesty International said the woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother's religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood.
In court, the judge addressed her by her Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
She was convicted of adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan's version of Islamic law, which says Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims.
The woman was originally sentenced to death on Sunday but given until Thursday to return to Islam.
There were small groups of protesters outside the court - both her supporters and those who back the punishment.
About 50 people chanting "No to executing Meriam" were confronted by a smaller group who supported the verdict, but there was no violence.
Amnesty's Sudan researcher Manar Idriss condemned the punishments, saying apostasy and adultery should not be considered crimes.
"The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent," he said.
The BBC's Osman Mohamed, in Khartoum, says death sentences are rarely carried out in Sudan.
Her lawyers plan an appeal to a higher court to get the sentence overturned.
On Tuesday, the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands issued a joint statement expressing "deep concern" about the case and urging Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, AFP says.
The woman was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013, and the court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim, Amnesty said.
The group called for her immediate release.
She is said to be eight months' pregnant.
SOURCE: BBC News
15 May 2014: Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy
The following URGENT prayer request was received from Christian Solidarity Worldwide and confirmed by a our worker in North Africa
We make an urgent appeal for prayer and ask that you pass this on to your prayer partners and fellow believers.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian, was sentenced to death for apostasy on Sunday 11 May 2014.
Meriam is in the late stages of pregnancy and has been in prison, with her 20-month-old son, since her arrest in February. She was sentenced to death for apostasy and to 100 lashes for adultery, and has until today (Thursday 15 May) to recant her faith and convert to Islam. The court implied that her sentence could be annulled or reduced if she does so. According to CSW’s sources, she’s receiving daily visits from Islamic scholars to pressure her to recant, but is determined not to.
Why was Meriam arrested and sentenced to death?
Meriam was arrested when authorities were made aware of her marriage to a Christian man. Because Meriam’s father is a Muslim, she is legally recognised as a Muslim by the state, even though her father left when she was six and she was brought up as a Christian by her mother. She was therefore charged with apostasy (leaving Islam) and sentenced to death.
She also faced the charge of adultery because Shari’a law in Sudan states that Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men, so her marriage was deemed invalid. Witnesses who wanted to testify to her lifelong Christian faith weren’t allowed to give evidence.
If the sentence is carried out, Meriam would be the first person to be executed for apostasy in Sudan since the introduction of the 1991 criminal code, prompting concerns that the charge may increasingly be used against anyone who converts from Islam.
Meriam’s husband and family are desperately concerned for her health and the wellbeing of her unborn child and young son. They have asked us to pray for her release.
- That the death sentence would be revoked and Meriam would be released from prison;
- For protection for Meriam, her unborn child and her 20-month-old son;
- That God would give wisdom, courage and strength to Meriam at this wearing time;
- For peace, comfort and strength for Meriam’s husband ,who has been separated from his wife and son;
- That the truth of Meriam’s religious background would be accepted by the courts, and that they would have compassion in their treatment of her.