US-Sudan Negotiating Over Fate of Mariam Ibrahim

The Sudanese government is meeting with US officials in order to negotiate a way for Mariam Ibrahim to leave the country.

Ibrahim was at the center of an international controversy when a Sudanese court condemned her to death for converting to Christianity, and declared her an adulteress for marrying a Christian man.

Ibrahim was given a reprieve from the death penalty when a court overturned her conviction. But she was arrested again at the Khartoum airport and charged with carrying false documents.


Her lawyer Mohaned Mostafa said Ibrahim, her husband and two children have all been staying at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum since her release, which was granted on the condition that Ibrahim remains in Sudan.

"There are talks going on currently between Sudanese and American officials to try to find a way for Mariam and her family to leave the country," a source close to the case said asking not to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Ibrahim was detained on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children.

Despite lifting her death sentence after huge international pressure, Sudan still does not acknowledge Ibrahim's new identity as a Christian South Sudanese because it does not recognize her marriage. Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men under the Islamic laws that Sudan applies.

"The talks now are aiming to get her out of Sudan on a Sudanese passport," the source said.

South Sudan, which has a majority Christian population, became independent from the mostly Muslim north after a referendum in 2011 that ended years of civil war.

Ibrahim's case has been closely monitored by Washington and London, which last month summoned the Sudanese charge d'affaires to protest against Ibrahim's initial death sentence and urged Sudan to uphold its international obligations on freedom of religion and belief.

A U.S. spokeswoman said on Thursday before Ibrahim's release that Ibrahim had all the documents she needed to travel to the United States.

Ibrahim's saga might have ended very differently if Christians throughout the west hadn't put enormous pressure on their governments to do something about her plight. Leaders like President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain were reluctant to get mixed up in a matter that, to Muslims, is mostly cut and dried. Only an outcry of protests from Christians forced their leaders to move.

One thing to consider is how the Sudanese government viewed the case.

"The punishment has little to do with religion and serves as a political distraction. This is a ploy by the Sudanese regime to appear as 'defenders of Islam' to mitigate their corruption".

And, of course, Ibrahim's situation served as a warning to other South Sudanese Christians, as well as Muslims in Sudan. An effective tactic to see a young woman forced to give birth in chains, and knowing she is to die when the child reaches two years of age.

Hopefully, Mrs. Ibrahim and her family won't have to wait too long to escape Sudan for the freedom of America.