Manchester Connection to Woman Detained in Sudan

By Stan Friedman

MANCHESTER, NH (June 25, 2014) — Daniel Wani, the husband of the Sudanese woman who was imprisoned and sentenced to be executed in her country for not recanting her Christian faith, has attended the Sudanese Covenant Church here since it started, says Pastor Monyroor Teng.

In May the Sudan government sentenced Meriam Ibrahim to be executed for refusing to recant her Christian faith. She gave birth while on death row. On Monday, an appeals court ordered her released and acquitted her of all charges.

She was detained at the airport on Tuesday, however, when the country’s security services accused her of trying to fly to the United States on a forged passport. According to news reports she is being held in a jail cell.

Wani and the couple’s two children were also detained at the airport. They are believed to be staying at the U.S. embassy.

Wani and his brother have come at various times to the church since it began, says Teng, who has led several local efforts to speak out against Sudanese government’s actions.

Teng said he was worried when Ibrahim was first sentenced to death. “The Sudanese government, when they say they are going to do something, they often do it.”

Even as Ibrahim was being detained, Teng said this morning, “I can say that Meriam is one of the lucky ones because people know about her. There are others who go through the same thing but no one knows.”

Still, Teng said he was worried over the latest developments. Finding someone to stand up for her in Sudan has been difficult. “It seems like she has no family because they all have run away from her. They are afraid of what the government might do to them.”

It was due to the complaints of some family members that Ibrahim was charged for abandoning the faith. In Sudan, Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women, but Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men.

Ibrahim, 27, was born to a Muslim father and Orthodox Christian mother. The father left the family when Ibrahim was a young child, and she was raised a Christian.

Wani had come to the United States as a refugee and later met Ibrahim via social media. They married in 2011.

Despite her Christian upbringing, other family members then complained that she had been born a Muslim and said the court should view her as an apostate. She was subsequently convicted even though she was eight months pregnant at the time.

The case drew moral outcry from around the world.

Teng said the unfolding incident has brought the already close Sudanese community here even closer together. He noted that his small congregation is made up of both Nuer and Dinka tribe members, which have been warring factions in South Sudan.

Many church members have fled some form of religious persecution and various forms of abuse so they are especially sympathetic, Teng said. They will continue to push for the family’s safe travels to the United States.

“We have to keep uniting, we have to keep telling the story,” Teng said.

Ibrahim’s commitment to her faith has inspired others. “She is a very, very strong woman.”

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