Meriam Ibrahim, the
Sudanese woman whose death sentence caused an international outcry, arrived
safely in Italy on July 24.
Ibrahim, also known as Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, was flown on an Italian
government jet to Rome with her husband, Daniel Wani, and two young children,
Martin and Maya.
Ibrahim was arrested in February and Sudanese judge Abaas Al Khalifa set
Ibrahim's death sentence for "apostasy" (leaving Islam) for May 15.
However, in June, the ruling was overturned and she was released from prison
only to be detained at the airport and denied permission to leave the country.
Upon arriving in Italy, the family met with the pope who "thanked her for
her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity,"
according to a Vatican report.
Currently, Ibrahim and her children are in a government safe house in Italy
until they secure proper travel documents to enter the United States. Their case
was discussed today at the State Department press briefing in Washington.
Al-Sharief Ali, Ibrahim's attorney said, "The Italians had the greatest
influence on Sudan and were able to secure her release." Lapo Pistelli,
deputy foreign minister for Italy, negotiated Ibrahim's release and accompanied
the family to Italy.
"Leveraging [Italy's] ties within the region," Ali said Pistelli
negotiated in an amicable way. "This [friendliness] paid off in the
end," he said.
"The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead," Al
Khalifa told Ibrahim on May 15 after Islamist crowds shouted for the court to
punish her. Al Khalifa had given her 15 days to recant upon announcing his
original sentence April 30. Because she married a Christian, she was also sentenced
to 100 lashes for apostasy.
She defended her religious beliefs by telling Al Khalifa in court, "I am a
Christian, and I have never been a Muslim."
Ibrahim was born to a Sudanese Muslim father who disappeared from her life when
she was 6 years old and an Ethiopian mother who was Ethiopian Orthodox. Though
her mother reared her as a Christian, Islamic law asserts she is Muslim by
birth because her father was Muslim.
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