Death-row mother meets Pope Francis after fleeing Sudan

Pope Francis has met Meriam Ibrahim and her family at the Vatican after they fled Sudan, where she recently faced a death sentence.

Pope Francis praised Mrs Ibrahim for her steadfast witness to Christ, in refusing to renounce her faith, despite facing a death sentence for apostasy against Islam.

The Pontiff spent 30 minutes with Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and their two small children.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, told journalists that the encounter in the Pope’s residence was marked by “affection” and “great serenity and joy”.

They had “a beautiful conversation”, during which the Pope thanked Ibrahim for “her steadfast witness of faith,” Fr Lombardi said.

Ms Ibrahim thanked the Pope for the Church’s prayers and support during her plight, he added.

The Vatican spokesman said the meeting was a sign of the Pope’s “closeness, solidarity and presence with all those who suffer for their faith”.

Italy’s foreign ministry led negotiations with Khartoum for her to be allowed to leave Sudan.

She arrived in Rome on July 24 aboard an Italian government plane accompanied by her family and Italy’s deputy foreign minister, Lapo Pistelli.

Among those organisations which helped with her exit from Sudan was the Italian human rights NGO Italians For Darfur.

Although brought up as a Christian by her Orthodox mother, a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law argues that she is still a Muslim since her father was a Muslim.

A Sudanese court ruled that she had committed apostasy when she married her American husband in 2011.

When she refused to deny her faith in court, she was sentenced to a flogging and death for the crime of “adultery”.

During her imprisonment, Ms Ibrahim was forced to give birth to a child while chained to a prison table.

After being released following an appeal, Ms Ibrahim was further detained when trying to leave Khartoum with her family.

Authorities claimed there were problems with travel documents.

Ms Ibrahim planned to travel to New York with her family after a few days in Rome.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,