A couple of weeks ago, we told you about Meriam Tahya Ibrahim, the 8 1/2 pregnant Sudanese woman who had been sentenced to death by an Islamic court for failing to denounce her Christian faith and marrying a fellow Christian man Daniel Wani, also from Sudan.
Ibrahim, 27, lives in New Hampshire but returned to Sudan and was arrested in February and ordered to return to Islam. Though Ibrahim said she was always a Christian, she was still sentenced to a death by hanging, after she gave birth to her child. Ibrahim was also sentenced to 100 lashes before she would be put to death because she married a Christian man, which is deemed adultery in the country.
But today Reuters is reporting that Ibrahim is set to be released soon. A government official said this past weekend that after the capital city of Khartoum came under diplomatic pressure, they decided to halt her execution.
Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdelah Al-Azrak told Reuters “The related authorities in the country are working to release Meriam who was sentenced to death for apostasy, through legal measures. I expect her to be released soon.”
This announcement comes after the British government, several U.S. senators, the White House and other countries urged Sudan to uphold international obligations on freedom of religion.
But Ibrahim’s lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa said that neither he nor Ibrahim’s husband have been notified of her pending release.
Last week, she gave birth to a daughter in prison, her second child from Wani.
Mostafa, her lawyer said that though they haven’t heard news of her release, “…we do hope she will get released soon.”
This certainly seems like good news but we’re sure Ibrahim’s family won’t rest soundly until she and her child are actually released from prison and sent back to New Hampshire. We’re still praying for the safe return of both she and her newborn daughter.
Update: CNN is reporting that despite earlier reports, Sudan’s foreign ministry denied that Ibrahim will be released. The ministry’s spokesman Abubakar Al-Sidiq said that he is not aware of any plans to release Ibrahim before a ruling from an appeals court.
Consistent with earlier reports, Ibrahim’s husband said, “I’m not aware that any release is imminent.”
Under Sudanese law, the president cannot pardon Ibrahim. The judiciary is the only entity that would be able to call for her release.
Wani says that his wife remains resolute. “I know my wife. She’s committed. Even last week, they brought in sheikhs and told them, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind.'”
Wani also said that while he’s thrilled about his daughter’s birth he hopes it doesn’t not hasten his wife’s death sentence.
In past cases similar to Ibrahim’s the government as waited until the mother has weaned her child before executing her. Sharia law, which is practiced in the country, prohibits carrying out a death sentence on a mother until two years after she gives birth.
When CNN reached out to the Sudanese justice ministry, they declined to comment because a final judgment has not been reached.
Ibrahim, who has been imprisoned since January 17, was ordered to renounce her Christianity by May 15. She has refused to do so.
Ibrahim’s attorney is hopeful though saying they appeals court could rule within the next week. And they are clinging to the fact that the last time the country executed a person was in 1985 when a man criticized Sharia law.