Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese woman who fled to Italy after being spared a death sentence for renouncing Islam, has arrived in the US.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag arrived in New Hampshire on Thursday evening with her American husband and her children.
Welcoming her on a brief stopover in Philadelphia, the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, described her as a “world freedom fighter”.
There was global condemnation when Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to hang for apostasy by a Sudanese court earlier this year.
Meriam Ibrahim’s father is Muslim so according to Sudan’s version of Islamic law she is also Muslim and cannot convert.
She maintains she was never Muslim having been raised by her Christian mother.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag arrived in New Hampshire on Thursday evening with her American husband and her children
Meriam Ibrahim flew from Rome to Philadelphia with her husband and two children, en route to Manchester, New Hampshire, where her husband has relatives and the family hope to settle.
While in Philadelphia, Michael Nutter said people would remember her just like “others who stood up so we could be free”.
He compared her to Rosa Parks, who became a symbol of the civil rights movement in the US when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Alabama.
Michael Nutter presented Meriam Ibrahim with a small replica of the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American independence.
Her next stop was Manchester, and there were about 40 relatives and supporters at the airport to greet her.
He said her husband said a few words, in which he thanked the US government for its strong stance, the New Hampshire senators who worked hard to arrange her asylum and the people of Sudan for their support.
Meriam Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, also a Christian, is from South Sudan and has US nationality.
Their daughter Maya was born in prison in May, shortly after Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to hang for renouncing one’s faith.
Under intense international pressure, her conviction was quashed and she was freed in June although she was initially stopped from leaving the country and the family took refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum.
When in Rome, Meriam Ibrahim met Pope Francis, who “thanked her for her witness to faith”, according to a Vatican spokesman.
Mariam Ibrahim, whose death sentence for renouncing Islam was overturned in Sudan, has been released from jail again, after she was detained at Khartoum airport on Tuesday.
Mariam Ibrahim’s lawyer, Muhannad Mustafa, said that she was currently in the US embassy with her family.
She had been detained on charges of falsifying ID documents.
Mariam Ibrahim was first released on June 23 when an appeals court lifted her death sentence for renouncing Islam.
Her sentencing in May to hang for apostasy sparked an outcry at home and around the world.
Mariam Ibrahim has been charged with forgery relating to the South Sudanese travel document she was carrying
Mariam Ibrahim, 27, had been held at a police station in the capital, since Tuesday, when she was prevented from leaving the country along with her husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children.
Daniel Wani is a Christian from South Sudan and is a US citizen.
She had reportedly planned to travel to the US with her family.
According to Reuters news agency, quoting her lawyer, Mariam Ibrahim was released on the condition that she remains in Sudan.
“Mariam was released after a guarantor was found, but, of course, she would not be able to leave the country,” Muhannad Mustafa said.
Asked about her plans following her release, she said: “I will leave it to God. I didn’t even have a chance to see my family after I got out of prison.”
Mariam Ibrahim has been charged with forgery relating to the South Sudanese travel document she was carrying, and accused of providing false information.
South Sudan’s embassy in Khartoum says the emergency travel documents were issued by the South Sudan authorities and are genuine.
However, Sudanese officials say she should have used a Sudanese passport and on Wednesday Sudan’s foreign ministry summoned the US and South Sudan charges d’affaires over the issue.
The ministry criticized South Sudan for issuing travel documents “despite their knowledge that she is a Sudanese national” and condemned the US for trying to help the woman leave Sudan using an “illegal [false] travel document”, the Suna news agency reports.
Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Authority are reported to have lodged the complaint against Mariam Ibrahim.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese woman awaiting the death penalty for abandoning her religious faith, has given birth in jail near Khartoum, her lawyer has said.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag married a Christian man and was sentenced to hang for apostasy earlier this month after refusing to renounce Christianity.
The woman is allowed to nurse her baby girl for two years before the sentence is carried out.
Born to a Muslim father, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was convicted by a Sharia court.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag married a Christian man and was sentenced to hang for apostasy earlier this month after refusing to renounce Christianity
Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was also convicted of adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan’s version of Islamic law, which says Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims.
For this the judge sentenced her to 100 lashes, which will reportedly be carried out when she has recovered from giving birth.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood.
According to Amnesty International, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013, and the court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim.
Lawyer Elshareef Ali said his 27-year-old client had given birth to a baby girl in the early hours of Tuesday morning in a hospital wing at the prison.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag also has her 20-month-old son with her as he has been held with her in prison since late February, he said.
Correspondents say death sentences are rarely carried out in Sudan.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag’s legal team lodged an appeal on May 22 as Elshreef Ali says the verdict contravenes the constitution’s enshrining of freedom of faith, the Bloomberg news agency reports.
Western embassies and rights groups have urged Sudan to respect the right of the woman to choose her religion.
A Sudanese woman has been sentenced to hang for apostasy – leaving Islam – after she married a Christian man.
Amnesty International condemned the sentence, handed down by a judge in Khartoum, as “appalling and abhorrent”.
Local media report the sentence on Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, who is eight months’ pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.
Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law.
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death,” the judge told the woman, AFP reports.
Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law (photo AFP)
Western embassies and rights groups had urged Sudan to respect the right of the pregnant woman to choose her religion.
The judge also sentenced the woman to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery – because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law.
This will reportedly be carried out when she has recovered from giving birth.
Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic cleric spoke with her in a caged dock for about 30 minutes, AFP reports.
Then she calmly told the judge: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”
Amnesty International said Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood.
In court, the judge addressed her by her Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was convicted of adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan’s version of Islamic law, which says Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims.
The woman was originally sentenced to death on Sunday but given until Thursday to return to Islam.
There were small groups of protesters outside the court – both her supporters and those who back the punishment.
About 50 people chanting “No to executing Meriam” were confronted by a smaller group who supported the verdict, but there was no violence.
Amnesty’s Sudan researcher Manar Idriss condemned the punishments, saying apostasy and adultery should not be considered crimes.
“The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent,” he said.
Death sentences are rarely carried out in Sudan.
Her lawyers plan an appeal to a higher court to get the sentence overturned.
On Tuesday, the embassies of the US, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” about the case and urging Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, AFP says.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013, and the court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim, Amnesty said.