The latest development in Meriam Ibrahim's story may be the one that ultimately leads to her freedom from Sudan. Her biological father's family has dropped the lawsuit that may have been the basis for all the other charges against the young Christian mother who was sentenced to death for her Christian faith.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Chicago Tribune reports that a lawyer for the father's Muslim family, Abdel Rahman Malek, told Reuters, "We are no longer proceeding with the lawsuit [against Meriam Ibrahim]." He gave no reason for the decision and declined to elaborate.
The lawsuit alleged that Meriam Ibrahim, a doctor, was legally a Muslim, which made her profession of Christianity a crime. It would also negate her marriage to her husband Daniel Wani, a biochemist, because the naturalized American citizen from South Sudan is a Christian. For a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man is a criminal act in Sudan, and Meriam and Daniel's marriage is considered adultery.
According to Meriam Ibrahim, she was raised in a Christian home by her mother, who is an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, reports the Christian Post. Her biological father is a Muslim, who left the family when she was six. Meriam has embraced Christianity for her entire life, and therefore did not convert from Islam to Christianity, as the father, the one who deserted them long ago, claims.
Al Samani Al Hadi is apparently Meriam's half-brother by blood, who filed charges to request that the court rule that Meriam Ibrahim is his sister, giving him legal rights over his 27-year-old sister. He does not want Ibrahim to leave Sudan, reports the Daily Mail.
In a bizarre tale concocted by Al Hadi, Meriam's husband supposedly bewitched her, giving her a magic potion to convert her to Christianity, a crime worthy of death, he says. He told CNN that Ibrahim deserves to be executed for being a Christian:
"It's one of two; if she repents and returns to our Islamic faith and to the embrace of our family then we are her family and she is ours. We are prepared to hold her dearer than the apples of our eyes. But if she refuses she should be executed."Al Hadi's hocus-pocus accusation was part of his testimony in court, which led to Meriam's conviction and sentencing to flogging with 100 lashes and death sentence, which was to be carried out after the birth and weaning of the baby she was carrying.
Ibrahim's toddler son Martin, an American citizen, was imprisoned with her.
His baby sister was born on May 27, while Meriam literally had her legs chained together. It was a very difficult birth, and has possibly resulted in baby Maya being disabled. In Meriam's words, it was "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 lying on the table."
Because of international outcry, including a petition from the ACLJ and international diplomatic pressure, Meriam Ibrahim's sentence was overturned on appeal, and it appeared that she was finally on her way home recently.
However, just before Meriam, Daniel, and the two babies were to board the plane, the family was stopped and taken into custody over charges of fraudulent travel documents. This was a fairly transparent attempt to keep the Meriam in Sudan on trumped-up charges. The family was arrested and taken into custody, but released the next day. A U.S. State Department spokesperson denied that anything was out of order with Meriam Ibrahim's documents, according to ACLJ:
"[F]rom our perspective, Meriam has all of the documents she needs to travel to and enter the United States. It's up to the Government of Sudan to allow her to exit the country."They are still not free.
The family is reportedly under the protection of the U.S. Embassy, but they are still stuck in Sudan after the new charges were levied against Ibrahim by her half-brother. According to Meriam's husband Daniel, he never met Al Hadi until he showed up in court with his allegations of magic potions.
The Daily Mail reports that Meriam Ibrahim says that she had never even met this brother who is causing so much turmoil in her life. Yet he is asserting claim over her, fighting for his Muslim family honor, even though Meriam was never even a part of that Muslim family.
This brother is very concerned over the sister (whom he never him before the trial), and the fact that she converted to Christianity. But Meriam testified to the court that "I was never a Muslim. I was raised a Christian and have always been a Christian."
Ibrahim was told in prison that if she would renounce her Christian faith, she would escape her death sentence. She faced great pressure to do so, but refused.
She and her husband were relieved when Meriam was released from prison, looking forward to coming to the United States. Al Hadi's twisted version of the story is quite different. He claims that Ibrahim was kidnapped after leaving the jail. He told Sudan's Al Intibaha newspaper "that she should have been shepherded to the family, and not her husband, when she left prison," because she wasn't really married to the father of her two children because she was bewitched into abandoning the Muslim faith that she never professed.
He reportedly flew into a rage when he found out that Meriam had been released, proclaiming, "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."
Maybe he should take a hint from Disney's Frozen, and "Let it go." Meriam Ibrahim and the rest of the world might appreciate that.
At any rate, for some unknown reason, he has apparently decided to drop the lawsuit, which will hopefully pave the way for Meriam Ibrahim and her family to get to the U.S. They will not be truly safe until that time. As Jay Sekulow of ACLJ has said, "While not physically in the custody of the Sudanese government at the present time, Meriam and her American family are not truly free until they are safely in America."
[images via Rarewallpapers, Breitbart]