Why is Meriam Ibrahaim Still Stuck in Sudan After Being Released From Prison?

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2014   |   11:39AM   |   Washington, DC

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was recently released from prison after facing the death penalty, is still stuck in Sudan. Ibrahim and her family are said to be safe at a “makeshift home” in at U.S. embassy in Sudan.

meriam18At eight months pregnant, Ibrahim had been sentenced to death for not renouncing her Christian faith and she was imprisoned and eventually forced to give birth in chains while shackled in the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum, Sudan.

Ibrahim was freed from prison after an appeals court found a lower court’s death penalty sentence to be unfounded. Ibrahim and her husband, who has both Sudanese and U.S. citizenship, traveled to the airport in Khartoum to leave the country for the U.S. They were arrested at the airport and accused of using forged travel documents, a claim Ibrahim denies.

After they were released, they went to the U.S. embassy, where they are now in a “makeshift” home there. But they have been there for some time.

So the question now is why is Ibrahim and her family still stuck in Sudan? CBN reports:

Almost two weeks after being freed from prison, many wonder why Meriam Ibrahim, along with her husband and two children, are still stuck in a corner of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.

“I think it is a good question that everybody is asking,” said Tina Ramirez, founder of Hardwired, an organization that works to end religious oppression around the world. “The charges were dismissed; she was at the airport she should have been able to go.”

Ramirez tells CBN News it appears the Sudanese government is delaying that case by preventing the prosecutor from moving forward.

In addition, Ramirez says another case against Ibrahim involving a family appeal on the case dealing with her relationship to her Muslim father is scheduled to be heard July 17 but can’t proceed until Ibrahim is served papers — something Ramirez says cannot happen while she’s at the U.S. Embassy.

Ramirez is calling for an end to the delays and the unconditional release of Ibrahim. She says it’s critical that international support continues for Ibrahim with more pressure on the Sudanese government on her behalf.

The U.S. State Department says it’s working to get Ibrahim and her family out of the country.

“We are engaging directly with Sudanese officials to secure their safe and swift departure from Sudan,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

But in an earlier interview with CBN News, Ramirez said the State Department should have done more a lot sooner with this case.

“Daniel (Ibrahim’s husband) had been petitioning for his wife to come here for the past three years since they were married,” Ramirez noted.

“A typical visa for a spouse will take about six to nine months so for this to have gone on for three years to the point where then her family was able to bring a case against her to put her in prison – it shows an extreme amount of negligence on the part of the American embassy in Khartoum,” she said.

Another new report provides more information:

She has since revealed that an initial doctor’s evaluation indicated that Maya was not injured during the birth. However, the baby is due to undergo an ultrasound in the coming weeks to confirm that she has full use of her legs. Ibrahim’s husband Daniel Wani has muscular dystrophy, a genetic condition that results in muscle wasting, and is confined to a wheelchair.

Last week, Sudanese First Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh and Foreign Minister Ali Karti told the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lapo Pistelli, that “they were willing to cooperate to reach a positive and speedy solution to the case,” according to the Daily Mail.

Despite their ongoing struggles, Wani and Ibrahim expressed gratitude for the international outpouring of love and support that they have received.

“All the family is well now,” Wani told the Daily Mail, repeating the phrase over and over.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate approved a bill late last week to put more pressure on the Obama administration to get Meriam and her family to the United States. Senators on both sides of the aisle embraced Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) bill to protect religious liberty abroad.

“As tragic as Meriam Ibrahim’s story has been, her imprisonment has helped raise the urgency of America’s involvement overseas,” says Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. “With the State Department slow to respond to her crisis — which until recently, included a death sentence and flogging for her Christian faith — the void once filled by the U.S. is painfully apparent. As FRC’s Leanna Baumer explains, the Senate took an encouraging step forward in forcing the State Department to prioritize the freedom of religion in diplomatic efforts by passing its Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act.”

“By creating a special envoy, Congress is cutting through some of the State Department’s bureaucracy and providing the rapid response necessary to beat back these attacks on human rights,” Perkins added. “Never has there been a greater need for freedom’s voice to speak into the darkness of religious oppression. We’re grateful that members of both parties see the need to push for that moral clarity — before it’s too late.”