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.