By Stan Friedman
MANCHESTER, NH (July 25, 2014) — The Evangelical Covenant Church will help resettle Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman once sentenced to death by the Sudanese government when she would not renounce her Christian faith.
Ibrahim, along with her husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children, was secretly flown out of Sudan to Italy on Thursday. They had been living at the American Embassy in Khartoum for the past month after she was released from prison. When Ibrahim tried to return to the United States, she was prevented by the Sudanese.
Wani, a Sudanese-American, has attended the Sudanese Covenant Church in Manchester since it started. He met Ibrahim while traveling in Sudan. For a previous Covenant News Service story, click here.
The State Department will arrange for the family to fly back to the United States next week.
A transition team is being pulled together to help the family when they return. “We are scrambling to find a nice apartment for them, doctors to attend to their children, and more,” Joel Kruggel, pastor at Bethany Covenant Church in Manchester, said today.
Superintendent Howard Burgoyne said arrangements are being made for the East Coast Conference to accept financial gifts to help the family.
Just hours after landing in Rome, the family met with Pope Francis. American officials told Kruggel that the family is being kept in a “secure place” because there continue to be threats against Ibrahim’s life from people angered by her release.
On May 15, a Sudanese court sentenced Ibrahim, who was pregnant at the time, to 100 lashes and to be executed by hanging for refusing to identify herself as a Muslim. She was accused of converting to Christianity from Islam and of marrying a Christian.
Ibrahim, 27, denied ever being a Muslim and refused to renounce her faith. Her child was born while she was in prison. The couple’s other child, who was less than two years old, had to live in the prison cell with her.
International outcry led the Sudanese Supreme Court to release Ibrahim on June 23. However, security forces detained her at the airport three days later when she and her family tried to travel to the United States. The Sudanese forces accused her of using a forged passport.
She was allowed to live at the embassy with her family but could not leave the embassy.