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.
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    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

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    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.

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