Reports today indicate the Sudan court has reversed itself and will free Meriam Ibraham, the pregnant Christian woman jailed and sentenced to be flogged and hanged for her Christian faith. Meriam was later forced to give birth in chains in a Sudanese prison as she awaited a death sentence ad brutal flogging by Muslim officials.
“The appeal court ordered the release of Mariam Yahya [Ibrahim] and the cancellation of the [previous] court ruling,” Sudan’s SUNA news agency said on Monday.
Although reports a couple of weeks ago suggested Meriam would be freed, they turned out to be false. These reports appear more credible and multiple news agencies, including Bloomberg News and the Associated Press are confirming Meriam’s impending release from prison.
A Sudanese appeal court ordered the release of Meriam Yehia Ibrahim and canceled the death sentence of the mother who refused to recant her Christian faith, the state-run news agency, Suna, said in a text message.
Sudan’s government said it wouldn’t interfere in the decisions of the judiciary.
Ibrahim on May 27 gave birth to a girl whom she’s caring for in prison along with her 20-month-old son. Under Sudanese law, a pregnant woman can’t be executed until she gives birth and raises the child for two years, according to Amnesty.
Ibrahim’s legal team filed an appeal on May 22, saying the verdict contradicts the country’s 2005 constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion as well as international rights agreements to which Sudan is a signatory.
Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, has said she was raised as Christian by her Ethiopian mother after her Sudanese Muslim father left when she was six years old.
She was arrested in August after men who said they were from her father’s side of the family reportedly accused her of adultery because of her marriage to a Christian man, Amnesty said.
An apostasy charge was added when she said she was never a Muslim, contradicting the court which considered her as having the same faith as her father. Ibrahim’s marriage was annulled and she was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery in accordance with Sudan’s interpretation of Islamic law.
Ibrahikm’s lawyer, Elshareef Mohammed, told the Guardian he heard the release announced on Sudanese radio but had no confirmation. He was on his way to the prison, where he was to meet Ibrahim’s husband Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen.
“I’m going to check if this is true,” Mohammed said.
In an email to LifeNews, Senator Roy Blunt celebrated the news that Ibrahim will no longer face the death sentence and will be freed from captivity in Sudan.
“I am very pleased that the Sudanese court has reportedly cancelled Meriam Ibrahim’s death sentence and ordered her release. Icontinue 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,” said Blunt.
In an effort to secure Ibrahim’s release, Blunt worked with U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) to send a letter on May 16, 2014, urging Secretary of the U.S. Department of State John Kerry to intervene on Ibrahim’s behalf. Blunt and Ayotte also sent a follow-up letter to Kerry and Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on May 21, 2014.
Congressman Chris Smith, chairman of the House Africa and global human rights subcommittee, commented on the release in an email to LifeNews.
“This is a huge first step,” said Smith, who had met with the Sudanese Ambassador to the United States Friday to discuss the Miriam Ibrahim case, after which he canceled a congressional hearing on the case set for tomorrow. “But the second step is that Ms. Ibrahim and her husband and their children be on a plane and heading to the United States.”
Leading pro-life groups rallied in the United States to put pressure on the Obama administration to do more to help Meriam’s release. They held a large rally outside the White House that he and pro-life groups led.
Ibrahim, 26, joined the Catholic Church shortly before she married U.S. citizen Daniel Bicensio Wani in December 2011. Because of that, Catholic Church officials were also speaking up on her behalf.
The Archdiocese of Khartoum has urged the judiciary in Sudan to review her case and overturn the death sentence.
“There are many people trying to persuade Meriam to renounce Christianity in order to be freed, but she is refusing. Some people are pleading with her husband to convince her to abandon Christian faith in order to save her life, but to no avail,” the archdiocese said.
“The Catholic Church — Archdiocese of Khartoum — expresses deep regret over the way the case is being handled in the court,” with disregard of “Meriam’s moral and religious beliefs,” it said.
“We are pleading with the judiciary and other concerned authorities to review the case … and to bring it to a reasonable end,” it said.
Ibrahim was not sentenced to die for her Christian faith for two years, until such a time as her newborn baby girl Maya is weaned, but she could have been flogged within days if her appeal of her death sentence was thrown out. LifeNews recently covered the terrible nature of the flogging she would have had to endure and how it would have literally take her skin off of her body.