Published On: Mon, Jul 28th, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim escapes Sudan with family, meets Pope Francis in Italy

Meriam Ibrahim appears to finally escaped the Christian persecution of Sudanese officials, escaping with her family and ultimately meeting Pope Francis I. Meriam and husband, Daniel Wani, left the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, traveling with the  Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, who posted a photo from the trip on his Facebook page.

Federica Mogherini, Italy’s Foreign Affairs minister, met the plane at Rome’s CiampinoAirport and called the family’s arrival a “great joy,” then thanked the “efforts of many” within the Italian government. Meriam and her family were met by the Pontiff who blessed them.

Pope Francis Meriam Ibrahim escape meeting at airport

Pope Francis greets Meriam Ibrahim who has survived and escaped her ordeal in Sudan

Meriam, a 27-year-old pediatrician, was arrested by the Sudanese government who then sentenced her to death by hanging for converting from Islam to Christianity. She was pregnant at the time and delivered her daughter Maya in prison, while still shackled.

The U.S. State Department had been negotiating with Sudanese officials for weeks to secure the family’s safe passage out of the country. Meriam appeared to be free of charges after global outrage and pushback, but a new flood of legal charges, including forgery for using her Christian name instead of her legal Muslim first name, delayed an escape from the African nation.

 A U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee last week focused on Dr. Ibrahim’s situation with Republican Rep. Chris Smith saying: “We intend for this hearing to be a strong appeal to the government of Sudan to end the legal entanglements.”

Also last week, the European Parliament had passed a resolution on the case, condemning her “degrading and inhumane” treatment by Sudanese authorities. The resolution called for urgent legal reforms to protect fundamental human rights and guard against discrimination on gender or religious grounds.

Meriam Ibrahim and family

Meriam Ibrahim and family

Smith declared, “Meriam Ibrahim Ishag has been imprisoned in Sudan in fear of execution, chained during the late stages of her pregnancy, forced to give birth in prison, released from prison and re-arrested on flimsy charges.

“This all is the result of her being Christian in a country in which the ruling authorities refuse to recognize the right of people to choose their own religion. Our hearing will examine this troubling violation of a basic human right.”

While the previous charges against Meriam were dropped, her family is still seeking legal action under Sharia Law trying to annul her marriage to U.S. citizen Daniel Wani. The lawsuits are an attempt by her family to keep Dr. Ibrahim in Sudan and exact punishment on her for supposedly leaving Islam.”

The U.S. Department of State told World Watch Monitorthat “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.’”

Pope Francis thanked Dr. Ibrahim for her steadfast witness to Christ, according to Carol Glatz of the Catholic News Service.“The pope spent 30 minutes with Ibrahim, her husband and two small children. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists that the encounter in the pope’s residence was marked by ‘affection’ and ‘great serenity and joy.’

“They had ‘a beautiful conversation,’” reported Glatz, during which the pope thanked Dr. Ibrahim for “her steadfast witness of faith,”  Lombardi said.

The Vatican spokesman said the meeting was a sign of the pope’s “closeness, solidarity and presence with all those who suffer for their faith,” adding that Dr. Ibrahim’s ordeal “has come to represent the serious challenges many people face in living out their faith.”

The family is scheduled to stay in Rome for a few days before heading to New York.

Photo and more coverage: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/christian-meriam-ibrahim-meets-pope-francis-after-escaping-sudan-n163681


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