News / Africa

Christian Woman on Death Row Leaves Sudan, Meets Pope

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, at the Vatican, July 24, 2014.
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, at the Vatican, July 24, 2014.
VOA News

A woman who received a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith flew into Rome on an Italian government plane on Thursday and hours later met the Pope.

The White House says it is "delighted" that she is now safe and free and coming to the United States.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim walked off the aircraft cradling her baby and was greeted by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, saying it was a "day of celebration".

Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, left, greets Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family arriving from Sudan in Rome July 24, 2014.Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, left, greets Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family arriving from Sudan in Rome July 24, 2014.
x
Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, left, greets Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family arriving from Sudan in Rome July 24, 2014.
Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, left, greets Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family arriving from Sudan in Rome July 24, 2014.

Soon afterwards, Ibrahim, her husband and two children had a private meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican. 

"The Pope thanked her for her witness to faith,'' Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

The meeting, which lasted around half an hour, was intended as a "sign of closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith,'' he added.

What led to departure

There were no details on what led up to the 27-year-old's departure after a month in limbo in Khartoum, but a senior Sudanese official said it had been cleared by the government.

Italy joined with the United States in helping to free Ibrahim, and the country's vice minister of foreign affairs accompanied her on the flight from Khartoum.

In May, she received the death sentence on a conviction of apostasy. The conviction stemmed from a Sudanese law stating children of Muslim fathers are considered Muslim. 

Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father. She was brought up as a Christian after her father left the family.

Adultery charges

A court also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes on charges of adultery for marrying Daniel Wani, who is a Christian. Under Sudanese law, marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims is not permitted.

In June, a Sudanese court overturned Ibrahim's conviction. She was released from prison but was detained by Sudanese authorities when her family tried to board a flight leaving the country. Officials questioned the authenticity of her travel documents.

The family then took refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan. Ibrahim's husband, Wani, is a U.S. citizen.

 Italian officials say the family plans to travel to the U.S. within a few days.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John B Kuon from: Juba,South Sudan
July 25, 2014 8:55 AM
Ms Ibrahim is the woman of high moral values and conviction,despite death threat over her head by Islamic fundamentalist in Khartoum she did not shy away or regret the decission she took,she is real christian and my advice to Muslim community is to respect the freedom of religion as God is one let every one choose his/her believe and have tolerance on that.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
July 25, 2014 1:56 AM
I give credit to Meriam Yahya Ibrahim for her incredible withstanding against threats on her life. Unlike most of us, Africans, she is a person of good moral principles. But the international media reported recently that her immediate family were somewhat behind her ordeal in Sudan.
Mamma Ibrahim has both Islamic and Christianity background, she has the right to choose freely any religion she might think will take her to paradise or hell of fire! But we should remind ourselves that there's no religion better than any other religion because all earthly religions are fundamentally bogus!

by: Taiwo Mike Idowu from: Abuja, Nigeria
July 25, 2014 1:47 AM
Halelluyah! Jesus is Lord, Thank God for Her life and Her family to know Jesus, He is the way to Heaven. I pray may the Lord continue to empower them.

by: vic from: ador
July 24, 2014 9:45 PM
I was deeply moved to tears , especially , the fact that this woman her her baby in the devils chains. Thanks to the pope for a human face.

by: ali baba from: new york
July 24, 2014 5:04 PM
Happy ending for brave woman whom she stand in her belief. What about million killed because they are Christian. the president of that country is wanted by international court for crime against humanity . Some body get him for his crimes that million died

by: Blackstar Deng Bol from: juba
July 24, 2014 3:51 PM
I really believe she is really Christian with trauma she had. Her faithful is well known by world.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 24, 2014 1:57 PM
That is called a triumphant Trojan, what a solidarity in real time and responsible manner. Ibrahim is just one person out of millions who want freedom in all these islamist countries. Had her husband not been a US citizen, what would have been her fate, or how would her case looked like? There is international criminal court at the Hague, just as there is world bank with branches everywhere, why can't the international criminal court have its branches worldwide so the citizens of the earth do not have to rely on parochial, draconian and medieval or barbaric laws of oligarchies when such laws do not satisfy the yearnings of people who have grown above the backwardness of their localities? The world must be given a voice to speak out, and institutions must be established to cater for people especially in the islamist regions to be able to find their freedom in a world that is free. Thanking God for this mercy, I want to pray for Sudan to receive the light of the dawn of democracies and freedom to allow its citizens develop in line with a world that frowns at the kind of darkness into which its draconian laws drag its citizens
In Response

by: John Stefanyszyn from: Montreal, Canada
July 25, 2014 1:59 PM
“... the Vatican said, the Pope "desired to show his closeness, attention and prayer also to all those who suffer for their faith, in particular to Christians who are enduring persecution or limitations imposed upon their religious freedom." ref. CNN Belief Blog (July 24)

Jorge Bergoglio ( “Pope Francis”) ….praying for religious freedom.

But NOTE...this worshipped and glorified “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM” dictates that it is RIGHT to worship ANY ‘GOD’.

Did not the One Creator command man that he is not to ( that he is not free) to worship any other ‘god’?
Did not the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the One and Only Creator, say that it is written that we are to worship ONLY the One Lord Your God and Him Alone to SERVE in obedience and love...love for Him and love for, to DO GOOD, to the fellow man?

Soon, very soon, the Anointed Lord Jesus will return to rule the earth in power as the One King according to the Will of the One Who Gives Existence to All that Exists and NOT according to man’s first love for “his self-freedom”, for his desire to serve, exalt, and magnify oneself (XES).

by: Anonymous
July 24, 2014 1:57 PM
I like the bravery of this woman. People should choose the husbands thelike to marry. Let people abandon religions they feel is not serving the purpose of religion.Islam is seen as the religion that spreads fear and threaten people abandoning it.

by: chris from: Hertfordshire
July 24, 2014 1:51 PM
What a happy ending for them all, may they all now be happy together for years to come.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More