Lawmakers who came out in support of a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death stressed that the administration shouldn’t let up on the African nation’s abuses of religious freedom now that Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag will be allowed to live.
Ibrahim, married to a New Hampshire resident, has been held behind bars on charges of apostasy. The 27-year-old doctor was forced to give birth to her second child in prison.
In 2012, she married Dr. Daniel Wani, a South Sudanese-born U.S. citizen in Khartoum; she was raised solely by her Christian Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her Muslim Sudanese father left when she was young.
Today a Sudanese appeals court decided to free Ibrahim, who was sentenced on May 15 to be flogged for adultery and to be hanged to death for her Christianity.
“As you know, the case has drawn the attention of the world, has been of deep concern to the United States government and so many Americans. We also, at this point, continue to urge Sudan to repeal its laws that are inconsistent with its 2005 interim constitution, the universal declaration of human rights, and the international covenant on civil and political rights,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
“These actions would help demonstrate to the Sudanese people that their government intends to respect their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights, and as you know, this is a case we raised quite frequently with the government there, and welcome today’s news,” she added.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who along with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) lobbied Secretary of State John Kerry to get involved and help Ibrahim, said he was “very pleased that the Sudanese court has reportedly cancelled Meriam Ibrahim’s death sentence and ordered her release.”
“I continue to urge U.S. officials to work quickly and use all resources available to immediately provide Meriam and her family with safe haven in the United States,” Blunt said.
The State Department has been pressured to give Ibrahim protection as the wife of an American citizen.
“We are all relieved that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim and her two young children have been freed from a Sudanese prison. Meriam and her entire family should be free to live their lives and practice their faith as they please,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security should make sure that she now has the ability to exercise that freedom in the U.S. if she and her family so choose.”
“The bottom line is that Meriam should never have been in this situation in the first place, and the Sudanese government deserves the free world’s condemnation for its outrageous trampling of religious freedom,” Rubio added. “Rather than praise the Sudanese government for finally doing the right thing, it deserves to be pressured to fundamentally change the way it treats Christians and people of other minority faiths.”