Meriam Ibrahim Freed; Meets With Pope Francis
The Sudanese Christian’s ordeal included being sentenced to death for apostasy, having her sentence revoked and then being detained by authorities at the Khartoum Airport just as she was about to leave.
VATICAN CITY — A young Sudanese mother sentenced to death for converting to Christianity was released, and she arrived in Rome Thursday with her family, where they met with Pope Francis shortly after arriving.
“Pope Francis was very tender with her, her husband ... and thanked her for her testimony,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said of the encounter in a July 24 statement.
Describing the meeting between the young family and the Holy Father as “very serene and affectionate,” Father Lombardi explained that, for him, the encounter, which took place in the Pope’s residence at the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, was “a gesture of closeness and solidarity for those who suffer for their faith. And this goes beyond this beautiful and attentive gesture.”
Ibrahim was arrested in August 2013; a Khartoum court convicted her May 15 of apostasy from Islam, as well as adultery. According to sharia (Islamic law), marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men is not recognized. Because her father was a Muslim, Ibrahim was legally considered a Muslim, even though her mother raised her as a Christian after her father left the family when she was 6 years old.
She is married to Daniel Wani, a Christian and a U.S. citizen. She gave birth to their second child while imprisoned and in chains on May 27.
She was to receive 100 lashes for the adultery charge and was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy. Despite pressure and multiple death threats, Ibrahim refused to renounce her Christian faith while in prison.
After having her death sentence revoked by a Sudanese court June 23 due to international pressure, Ibrahim was re-arrested, along with her husband, at the Khartoum Airport the next day on charges of forged documents. The entire family was detained for two days, until the new charges were dismissed.
Corriere della Sera reported that the family had remained in the Italian Wmbassy of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, since June 26, until leaving the country on a flight that landed in Rome this morning at roughly 9:30 local time.
On board the flight along with the family was Italy’s vice minister of foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, who has been following Ibrahim’s case. According to Corriere, Pistelli had already met Meriam in Khartoum on July 3.
The family is set to remain in Rome for a few days, after which they will depart for New York.