The world didn’t think it would happen but the Daily Mail is reporting today, June 23, that Meriam Ibrahim has been freed from a death sentence in Sudan. Ms. Ibrahim is the 27-year-old woman sentenced to death after converting to Christianity in Sudan. She has been sent to a safe house for her own protection.
Meriam Ibrahim is married to American Christian Daniel Wani. She was charged with apostasy by supposed male relatives she had never met. Since she was apostate, the court did not recognize her marriage to Wani and she was sentenced to a public lashing for adultery.
The problem is that Meriam Ibrahim claims that she was never a Muslim, that she had been raised a Christian. Her father is a Muslim, though, and that was good enough for a Sudanese court to condemn her when she refused to revert to or become a Muslim.
Meriam’s case raised an international ruckus. Her appeal, had it failed, would be taken to an international court according to her attorneys, Shareif Ali Shareif and Mohaned Mostafa. Sudan’s SUNA news agency announced the cancellation of the sentence and her release was verified by the Daily Mail.
According to attorney Shareif, “She has been released from prison and she is on her way home with the children. She is very happy and the children are fine. Her husband Daniel Wani is overjoyed. He is so happy he is almost crying.”
Attorney Mostafa added, “Her family had been threatened before and we are worried that someone might try to harm her.” In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Al Samani Al Hadi Mohamed Abdullah, her half-brother, said that if Meriam was killed according to the sentence, it would have ‘enforced God’s word’ because she broke Sharia. He threatened to kill her himself if she was not executed.
Safwan Abobaker, a religious activist for the organization Hardwired said that the international pressure paid off. ‘The Sudanese government was embarrassed by all the attention so they freed her. It’s better for her to come to America now as her half-brother said that he would kill her if the court did not carry out the sentence.”
Missouri Senator Roy Blount had written letters campaigning for Meriam’s release. And though he is gladdened by the release, says that more action is needed to help her. “I am very pleased that the Sudanese court has reportedly cancelled Meriam Ibrahim’s death sentence and ordered her release. I continue to urge U.S. officials to work quickly and use all resources available to immediately provide Meriam and her family with safe haven in the United States.”
Even though she has been released, Meriam may not be totally in the clear just yet. Juergen Schurr, a legal advisor with the human rights charity Redress, said, “Until we see the judgment, I think we are still a bit cautious because we are very concerned if the government did not address both charges. Meriam was given the death penalty for apostasy and the lashes for adultery. The lashes could still be in place and we are concerned that both charges should be dismissed.”