Sudan Releases Christian Meriam Ibrahim Again; Free To Leave When Conditions Met [Update]

Sudan re-released Meriam Ibrahim after arresting her and her family as she attempted to leave the country this morning.

Sudan has been in the spotlight in recent weeks because of the arrest and conviction of Sudanese Christian woman Meriam Ibrahim on charges of apostasy. Under Sharia law in Sudan, apostasy from Islam is punishable by death. Meriam was further convicted of marrying a non-Muslim, a charge which is considered adultery under Sharia law, punishable by whipping.

Ibrahim was pregnant while imprisoned and had to give birth while chained to the ground. Her death sentence was delayed because Sharia law in Sudan allows for condemned mothers of infants to live long enough to wean their infant children. Sudan planned to execute her after her baby turned two years old.

Many prayed for Meriam around the world, and organizations such as the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International protested the death sentence for apostasy. It appeared the prayers had been answered when Meriam Ibrahim’s sentence was overturned by the Sudan appellate court. Meriam was released from custody and went into hiding, upon the advice of her lawyers, who feared that the Muslim family members who levied the charge of apostasy against Ibrahim might try to harm or kill her.

This morning, the Sudanese Christian woman’s story hit another obstacle as she was re-arrested, this time with her husband and two children, while trying to leave the country. According to a BBC report, Sudanese officials detained Meriam Ibrahim because she was trying to leave the country with a passport from the Republic of South Sudan – a predominantly Christian nation that gained independence from predominantly Muslim Sudan in 2011.

Meriam Ibrahim’s husband is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally born in what is now South Sudan, but Meriam herself is a citizen of Sudan – not South Sudan. Meriam and her family were detained, reportedly for attempting to leave the country with a falsified passport. The arrest of the Sudanese Christian woman and her family was under the guise of Sudan’s national security.

Because Meriam’s husband, Daniel Wani, and the couple’s two children are United States citizens, the U.S. government became involved in Meriam’s case. According to a press release by Senator Marco Rubio, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Meriam Ibrahim. Sen. Rubio was the resolution’s lead sponsor. According to the press release, Marco Rubio – whom many consider to be a potential 2016 presidential candidate – had this to say about Sudan arresting Meriam Ibrahim again:

“I am disgusted by the detention of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim and the detention of her American husband Daniel Wani and their two young children. After being persecuted for her faith, and facing the unimaginable fear of being sentenced to death, Meriam and her family were trying to leave Sudan to live their lives free from religious persecution. Instead the Sudanese government is continuing to violate their fundamental rights by denying them the ability to leave Sudan to escape persecution. Meriam should have never been arrested in the first place, but her detention along with the detention of her husband, an American citizen, requires immediate action. I urge the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to do everything in their power to secure the release of Meriam, Daniel, and their children, and to make sure they have the ability to exercise their religious freedom in the U.S. if they so choose.”

Whether the resolution by Marco Rubio and the U.S. Senate played a role in Sudan’s handling of Meriam Ibrahim’s case is unclear at this time, but according to the BBC report, Ibrahim will be released and asked to get a passport and the correct exit papers so that she and her family can leave Sudan. Internet-based sources that have been following the story closely, such as the Assemblies of God World Missions Facebook page, claim that Meriam Ibrahim has been re-released.

[Update] According to a report in The UK Daily Mail, Meriam Ibrahim’s lawyer said, “Her husband Daniel and the children are with her in the same cell. Any reports suggesting she has been released are wrong. We need to highlight her plight.”

Additionally, Meriam’s half brother, who initially brought the charges of apostasy has vowed to kill Meriam, saying:

“The family is unconvinced by the court’s decision. We were not informed by the court that she was to be released; this came as a surprise to us. The law has failed to uphold our rights. This is now an issue of honour. The Christians have tarnished our honour, and we will know how to avenge it.

[Image via Bing]