Sudanese Mother on Death Row, Meriam Ibrahim, Released from Prisoncomment (0)
June 23, 2014
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim was released from prison in Sudan on June 22, less than two months after Morning Star News broke the story of false charges of apostasy against her that set off a firestorm of international protests.
Ibrahim, who gave birth to her second child in prison May 27, had received a sentence of death by hanging for allegedly leaving Islam after a Muslim claiming to be a relative accused her of marrying a Christian man — the crime of “adultery” under Islamic law for which she also was sentenced to 100 lashes.
One of her attorneys confirmed that she was released at 2 p.m. on June 22.
“The court has served us with a letter stating that she is now free of charges,” he said.
Sudan’s state news agency reported that the country’s Court of Cassation canceled the death sentence against the 27-year-old Christian, who has been in prison with her toddler son since February, after defense lawyers presented their case. Witnesses for the defense had been prohibited from testifying during the trial.
Human rights advocates said Sudan must ensure protection for Ibrahim and her family, as Islamists have clamored for her death throughout the trial. She will likely seek asylum in another country on grounds of religious persecution. Her husband, South Sudanese national Daniel Wani, has United States citizenship.
Ibrahim has maintained that her Sudanese father was Muslim but disappeared when she was 6 and that she was raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Having never been a Muslim, she could not be guilty of apostasy, she testified.
A woman claiming to be Ibrahim’s mother and a man who claimed to be her brother attended court hearings, according to Middle East Concern (MEC).
“However, Meriam did not recognize either of them, and they contradicted each other concerning Meriam’s father and could not answer simple questions relating to Meriam’s upbringing, leaving their claims and statements open to question,” according to MEC.
International media, Western embassies and human rights groups urged her release when Ibrahim’s death sentence was confirmed after she refused to recant her faith May 15. Among those advocating for her release was Christian Solidarity Worldwide, whose chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, released a statement asserting that Sudan must now protect her from Islamist vigilantes.
“We are delighted to hear that Mrs. Ibrahim and her children have been released into the care of her husband and that the unjust, inhumane and unwarranted sentences have been annulled,” Thomas said. “However, we remain appalled by the threats and hate speech that has been aired seemingly unhindered against Mrs. Ibrahim and her lawyers and urge the international community to hold the Sudanese authorities to account for her safety and that of her lawyers.” (MS)