Meriam & family finally escape Sudan, arrive in Italy

August 9, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Meriam Ibrahim and PopeSudan, July 26, 2014: Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was cleared of apostasy and adultery, has arrived safely in Italy with her family.

Meriam, her husband Daniel Wani and the couple’s two children flew to Rome yesterday (24 July), a month after Meriam was released from prison. The death sentence Meriam (27) was given for apostasy was overturned on 23 June following an international outcry.

The Italian government, which has a good relationship with the Sudanese authorities, has played a key role in securing Meriam’s travel. The family travelled on an official Italian government plane and were accompanied by Italy’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli.

Meriam and her family were greeted by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who said, “Today is a day of celebration.” They then travelled to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican. The family now hope to continue their journey to the US, where Daniel holds citizenship.

All the details of how Meriam’s travel was arranged are not yet clear. When Meriam and her family first attempted to leave the country for the US on 24 June, she was re-arrested at the airport. She was briefly detained and on her release was barred from leaving Sudan; the family took refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Meriam’s Muslim family also pursued legal action to try to prevent her from leaving Sudan.

Under the strict application of sharia law in Sudan, Meriam has been regarded as a Muslim because she was born to a Muslim father, even though he left the family when she was six and her mother raised her as a Christian. She was considered to have left Islam – committed apostasy – even though she never practised it and has maintained her Christian faith throughout. Meriam was also considered to have committed adultery because, under sharia, a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim man.

Meriam was imprisoned along with her 18-month-old son Martin; she gave birth to Maya, now two months old, while shackled in prison. Fears have been raised that the infant may need support to walk.

Meriam, who refused to renounce her faith even when offered a reprieve, is both a tremendous witness to her faith and a political showcase. Her treatment by the Sudanese government represents a grim warning to other Christians in Sudan, where President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been pursuing his stated aim of making the country “100% Islamic”.

– barnabas team

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