The President’s team can hardly afford another scandal, but that’s exactly what they’ll have on their hands if the U.S. State Department insists on ignoring the plight of an American family in Sudan.
For three months, a young Christian wife — now almost eight and a half months pregnant — has been shackled in a Sudanese prison on death row. Authorities, who refuse to recognize her marriage to a Christian man, have sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery and execution for her faith.
As if that weren’t horrifying enough, her stateside husband, Daniel Wani, an American citizen, says their 20-month-old toddler is behind bars with her, enduring unspeakable horrors at the hands of the oppressive Sudanese. Her frantic husband, who continues to plead with the U.S. Embassy for help, flew from New England to Khartoum to visit his wife, Meriam Ibrahim — and was beside himself to find her bound up and swollen. For now, authorities refuse to release his son to Daniel, because of his faith. Although the court gave Meriam days to recant her Christianity, she refused, saying, “I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian.”
And while the court does allow pregnant women to give birth before their hanging, the international community is pressing to overturn the verdict.
Unfortunately for Daniel, his home country has barely lifted a finger to help the family, saying only that it was “disturbed” by the case. Yesterday, in a shocking exchange with CNSNews.com, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki showed the absolute indifference of the Obama administration toward this family’s nightmare. Asked if Daniel was in fact a U.S. citizen, Psaki told CNSNews, “Typically we don’t confirm those type of details, but I’m happy to check and see if there’s more to share.”
“You don’t know whether that little boy in prison is a U.S. citizen?” CNS fired back.
“I don’t have any more details to share,” Psaki answered.
One of the more jaw-dropping parts of the family’s story is that the U.S. embassy had demanded a DNA test to prove Daniel was a father. He agreed, even offering wedding documents and birth certificates, but said the American Embassy in Sudan still “did not help me.” CNSNews followed up with Psaki, asking, “Did the embassy in Khartoum ask Mr. Wani to provide DNA evidence that that was his son?” Again, the State Department shrugged it off, replying that they’d be “happy to check and see if there’s more to share.” “So, as of this moment,” the reporter pressed, “the U.S. government does not know whether that 20-month-old boy in prison in Sudan is an American citizen imprisoned because he’s a Christian?” — to which Psaki said, “I think I’ve addressed your questions…” “My wife,” Daniel insisted, “was never a Muslim.”
Unfortunately, it’s been like pulling teeth to get the U.S. involved in international religious liberty crises. It took years to get Boko Haram classified as a terror group for slaughtering Christians. Pastor Saeed Abedini is still being brutalized in an Iranian prison. And now this. “I’m just praying for God. He can do a miracle,” said Daniel’s brother.
For now, it looks like that miracle might have to come from Congress. Infuriated by Secretary John Kerry’s inaction, at least two senators, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) are calling on the State Department to intervene and grant the family political asylum. “We write to urge your full attention to the outrageous Sudanese court ruling that sentenced Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag to death by hanging for her religious beliefs. We request your immediate action and full diplomatic engagement to offer Meriam political asylum and to secure her and her son’s safe release.” The duo also took the opportunity to highlight the vacancy for an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom — a post that could help prevent, if not alleviate, conflicts like this one.
LifeNews Note: Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.