Italy (MNN) — A Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for apostasy has finally been released and allowed to leave the country. The 27-year-old mother of two, Meriam Ibrahim, and her American husband traveled to Italy yesterday, meeting with Pope Francis after landing.
Advocacy Director for Open Doors USA Kristin Wright says, “Today is certainly a day of celebration for this courageous woman.”
Ibrahim’s release was an answer to many prayers and a lot of hard work. Wright says, “The Italian government was very instrumental in bringing Meriam’s ordeal to an end and bringing her out of Sudan. She’ll be spending a little time there. We don’t really know when she’ll be arriving here in the United States.”
Ibrahim actually was released from prison last month after giving birth to her second child in prison. This, her first release, was attributed to international outcry over her sentence of execution. Her father was Muslim, but he abandoned her as a baby, and she grew up in a Christian home.
Her paternal family members were the ones leveling the apostasy charges. “She’s faced substantial persecution from her own family. That’s been an ongoing issue from the beginning. Then, additional extremists were threatening her life while she was in prison and after her release,” Wright says.
Even though Ibrahim was released last month, she was re-arrested over false document charges while trying to leave Sudan for the United States. Those allegations were denied. Wright says, “It’s a tremendous relief that she was able to leave the country…. Many people were worried that the longer that she remained in Sudan, the greater the risk of her life and the lives of her family.”
While not all cases like this end the way Meriam’s did, Wright says, “Your letters, your phone calls, your actions can really make a difference. Meriam’s case stands as an incredible example of the power of advocacy and the power of speaking out.”
Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA says, “The challenge is to eliminate violence against individuals for their faith.”
Open Doors has been supporting the persecuted church around the world for almost 60 years. Not just with advocacy, says Wright. “We continue to work and support them with practical aid” such as food, clothing, medicine, and shelter, as well as Christian materials and Bibles.
Sudan ranks #11 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. You can find the complete list at http://www.WorldWatchList.us.
If you’d like to support Open Doors and their work with the persecuted church, click here.