Permission to leave Sudan remains unclear

(Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani, courtesy Daniel Wani)

(Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani, courtesy Daniel Wani)

Sudan (WWM/MNN) — Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the current status of Sudan’s “death-row mother” Meriam Ibrahim’s lack of freedom to leave Khartoum for a new life with her husband and children in America.

On July 17, Reuters reported that the lawsuit brought by Ibrahim’s Sudanese Muslim father was dropped. The lawyer handling the case said this move could allow her to depart for the United States, where her husband Daniel Wani is a dual U.S. citizen.

Then Sudan Tribune reported on July 18 that Ibrahim’s family filed another lawsuit, this time seeking to annul her marriage to her Christian husband. This is a another attempt to keep her from leaving Sudan, and an annulment of Wani and Ibrahim’s marriage would also mean the children would not be legally recognized as Wani’s children.

Early last week, Ibrahim’s family filed a lawsuit seeking to prove the biological link between Ibrahim and her Muslim father, but the suit was dropped without explanation by the family. A lawyer, Abdel Rahman Malek, acting on their behalf told Reuters news agency: “We are no longer proceeding with the lawsuit,” but he declined to give any reason.

The first scheduled hearing of the case would have been Thursday July 17 at the Khartoum Family Court.

The U.S. Department of State told World Watch Monitor that “the Government of Sudan has assured us of the family’s continued safety. It went on to say in an e-mail, ‘The Department of Homeland Security has informed us that Ms. Ishag [Meriam Ibrahim] and her children have all the documents they need to enter the United States as soon as the Government of Sudan allows them to exit the country.'”

Relatives of Meriam originally accused her of adultery by marrying a Christian.

WWM has several times reported the story of her death sentence from the court in Khartoum and its world-wide condemnation; we have also highlighted the general plight of Sudan’s Christians.

Ibrahim’s harrowing journey began with arrest in September 2013 before being found guilty of apostasy, sentenced to hang, and then giving birth to her second child while imprisoned. She was finally freed on 26 June 2014 and is now staying at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.

Meriam and her family are living in a makeshift home sleeping on four camp beds in the Embassy’s library. Despite these cramped conditions, her stay has prevented the Sudanese court serving papers, which could have contributed to the breakdown of the latest case against her.

The Sudanese government does not appear to have formally dropped its accusation of “incorrect travel documents.” Ibrahim is a Sudanese citizen, but the U.S. Embassy assisted her efforts to try to leave Khartoum using South Sudanese travel papers. Ibrahim was allowed to leave police custody after a brief detention on June 26 over the alleged ‘”forged” papers.

Further good news for Meriam’s family was recently reported by the UK’s Daily Mail: her baby girl was not injured, despite being born while her mother was shackled to the floor.

Meriam, herself a doctor, feared that being constrained during birth could cause irreparable damage to her daughter, Maya. It was feared that, like her father, Daniel, who has muscular dystrophy, she might not be able to walk. An ultrasound in the coming weeks is hoped to give Maya the all clear.

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Pray for Meriam’s new family with her Christian husband, as well as for her Muslim family.