As the world anxiously watches, Miriam Ibrahim’s emotional rollercoaster with the Sudanese authorities has been changing rapidly. On June 23, we rejoiced at the news of Miriam Ibrahim’s release from prison. The next day she was taken into custody again while attempting to leave Sudan. Citing unnamed sources that day, the BBC reported, “About 40 security agents detained Mrs. Ibrahim-along with her husband Daniel Wani and two children-at the airport.” Bloomberg reported that Ibrahim and her family were attempting to board a flight out of the country. “The (U.S.) State Dept. said that they were held reportedly for not having the proper documentation to leave the country,” wrote Tina Ramirez to World Watch Monitor.
Meriam, Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Sudanese doctor who gave birth to her daughter while in shackles, had been condemned to death by hanging during a sentencing on May 15. Her son was also forced to stay in the prison with his mother, as authorities refused to release him into the custody of his father Daniel Wani because he is not Muslim. Ibrahim was accused of apostasy for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. The authorities had previously said that Ibrahim’s release would only be possible if she renounced her faith and divorced her husband, although Sudan’s 2005 interim constitution guarantees freedom of religion.
She was charged as an apostate Muslim because her father was Muslim. Ibrahim, however, claimed she was raised as a Christian because her mother is Orthodox Christian, and her father left the family while she was young. Previous court rulings had ordered her to receive 100 lashes for committing adultery, since they did not recognize the validity of her marriage to Daniel Wani, a Catholic American. Under Sudan’s Sharia law, Muslim women are not allowed to marry Christian men.
Meriam Ibrahim has since been freed from detention, on condition that she remains in Sudan, and is currently with her family in the US embassy in Khartoum.
Meriam’s case highlights the vulnerability of women who express their loyalty to Christ in the face of Muslim opposition. Last week, Maria Yusuf, from Boreda, Ethiopia, was killed after her husband beat her for her refusal to recant her Christian faith. A Muslim before she was married, she became a Christian two years ago. A Christian acquaintance arrived at the scene of the crime just before Maria died to hear her say repeatedly, “He killed me.”
The local Christian community spoke to Open Doors of their love for Maria and of her spiritual growth. She was baptized at the beginning of this year – but endured regular beatings from her husband for converting to Christianity, a situation she had earlier reported to the police.
Father, we pray for this family and rejoice that You have brought about the release of Miriam from the penalty of death. Whether they are still in custody or safely in the U.S., You are with them; You are their comfort and hope. You are the author and sustainer of their lives and they bear the name of Christ. Through these trying circumstances, teach them of Your faithfulness that they might learn to trust You in all their ways. Father, our heart grieves over the brutal killing of our sister Maria in Ethiopia. Welcome her home into Your loving arms. None of us knows what will come tomorrow; teach us as well through these precious women’s’ lives that we can trust in You in all things and at all times. In the name of Jesus, our anchor of hope in a changing, unstable world. Amen.