KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNS) — Meriam Ibrahim, 26, a Catholic woman convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian, was released from prison June 23, her lawyer said.
The lawyer said she was taken to a safe house; she had given birth to a daughter in late May and her 1-year-old son also had been in prison with her.
Ibrahim joined the Catholic Church shortly before she married U.S. citizen Daniel Bicensio Wani in December 2011, said a mid-June statement signed by Father Mussa Timothy Kacho, episcopal vicar for the Archdiocese of Khartoum, which had urged the courts to review her case. In mid-May, she was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death by hanging. Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, which is punishable by death.
Wani, who lives in New Hampshire, was refused custody of their son because, under Sudanese law, a Christian man cannot raise a Muslim child.
In Washington, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House Africa and global human rights subcommittee, called Ibrahim’s release “a huge first step,” and added, “but the second step is that Ms. Ibrahim and her husband and their children be on a plane and heading to the United States.”
Earlier, the Khartoum Archdiocese said Ibrahim’s Sudanese Muslim father abandoned the family when she was 5, and she was raised according to her mother’s faith, Orthodox Christian.
“She has never been a Muslim in her life,” the archdiocese said.
“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.
In a May joint statement, Sudan’s churches said the charges against Ibrahim were false and appealed to the Sudanese government to free her from prison.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103