Sudanese Christian woman convicted of apostasy arrives in U.S.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her Christian beliefs, arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, to establish a new life with her husband and two young children.
By JC Finley  |  Aug. 1, 2014 at 4:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for apostasy and was unable to depart Sudan for the U.S. due to alleged travel paper irregularity after her release from prison in June, has finally arrived in America.

Ibrahim, her two young children, and husband arrived Thursday at Machester-Botson Regional Airport in New Hampshire.

It was a long and arduous journey to their new home.

Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy while she was eight months pregnant, and put in prison with her 20-month-old son. In May, a Sudanese court ruled she would die by hanging for renouncing the Muslim faith of her father, who left the family when Ibrahim was six years old. She was raised a Christian by her mother. The court also convicted Ibrahim of adultery for marrying a non-Muslim man, and sentenced her to be flogged.

While imprisoned, she gave birth to a baby girl on May 26.

Her jailing and death sentence sparked international outrage, and her sentence was overturned in June.

Hours after her release from prison, Ibrahim and her American citizen husband attempted to fly to the U.S. with their two young children, but were detained at the airport because of an "alleged irregularity with her documentation." Ibrahim and her husband were detained by police for days until they were released on bail and then sheltered by the U.S. embassy.

The U.S. Department of State acknowledged it was facilitating their travel to the U.S. and said at the time, "from our perspective, Meriam has all of the documents she needs to travel to and enter the United States. It's up to the Government of Sudan to allow her to exit the country."

The Italian government intervened and facilitated her departure from Sudan. Italian deputy Foreign Minister Lappo Pistelli explained that Italy became involved in Ibrahim's case because the Catholic country was impacted by the story of a Christian woman convicted for her religious beliefs and also because Italy enjoys good relations with Khartoum.

Ibrahim and her family were flown from Khartoum to Rome on July 24, where they met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican for approximately 30 minutes. The Holy Father thanked them for their "courageous constant witness to faith."

With their final touchdown in the U.S. on Thursday, Ibrahim's brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, said they are filled with "a lot of happiness right now."

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