By Maddy Tennis
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a Christian woman sentenced to death by the Sudanese court for apostasy, traveled to Rome on Wednesday with her husband, Daniel Wani, and their two young children. They are now living in a government safe house in Italy until they can receive proper documents and return to the United States.
Ibrahim—the daughter of a Christian mother and a Muslim father—was accused of converting to Christianity, which is against Sudanese Law. And because Islamic law does not recognize her marriage to her Christian husband, the government also convicted her of adultery. Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes and death on May 15th, 2014.
Ibrahim was forced to give birth to her daughter Maya in a Sudanese prison under unsanitary conditions. Following an international outcry, Ibrahim’s sentence was revoked on June 23rd. However, she was prevented from leaving the country due to her allegedly false documents. Sudanese authorities charged her with an offense for trying to leave and she was transferred to a police station until charges were dropped. Since then, she has sought shelter at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, since her husband has dual citizenship, until she was finally able to travel.
The United States should facilitate the family’s entry back into its country if Ibrahim and her family so chooses. Moreover, while Ibrahim’s release is a positive step, the charges against her remain in place, as do Sudan’s unjust apostasy laws, which violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United States should use its influence to pressure the Sudanese government to eradicate these laws and uphold its commitment to protect those facing religious persecution.