Sudan’s apostasy woman arrives in Rome
June 24, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Christian woman who escaped death penalty for apostasy, Meriam Ibrahim, safely arrived in Rome accompanied by her family and Italy’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, who undertook a secret visit where he negotiated her departure with Sudanese government.
- Meriam and her childersn with Italy’s deputy foreign affairs minister Lapo Pistelli in the aircraft during their trip to Rome (Photo Pistelli’s Facebook)
Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death last May for renouncing Islam, but was released after what the government said was “unprecedented” international pressure. An appeals court found Ibrahim not guilty on two charges of apostasy and adultery and overturned the lower tribunal’s verdict.
However, the 27-year-old woman was taken into custody by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers at Khartoum airport last month along with her husband, Daniel Wani, and two children.
After being released from custody, Ibrahim stayed at the US embassy in Khartoum along with her husband and two young children.
There were no details on what led up to Ibrahim’s departure from Khartoum, and there was no immediate comment from the Sudanese government.
However the Italian deputy foreign minister told reporters he had been in Sudan two weeks ago to mediate Ibrahim’s departure and met with her for the first time in the US American where she was.
Pistelli, arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday evening in an Italian government airplane and collected Ibrahim and her family. They arrived at Ciampino’s military airport, on the outskirts of Rome in the early morning on Thursday.
- Meriam Ibrahim, right, holds her baby girl Maya, accompanied by Italian deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, holding her son Martin, followed by Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, second from right, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, second from left, and his wife Agnese Landini, after landing from Khartoum, at Ciampino airport, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (Photo AP/Riccardo De Luca)
The Sudanese and her family were received by the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, his wife and the foreign minister Federica Mogherini.
“This is a day of celebration,” said the prime minster Renzi to express his happiness after intense efforts by his government and the Vatican to secure Ibrahim’s arrival in his country.
The Italian deputy foreign minister, from his side, thanked the Sudanese government for accepting their mediation and allowing her departure.
“This gesture by Sudan is testimony to the friendship between our country and Italy’s choice to be a protagonist in this event,” said Pistelli.
Ibrahim is expected to travel to the United States with her family within days.
She was received by the Pope Francis in his Santa Marta residence, at the Vatican.
- In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, on Thursday, July 24, 2014
Earlier this month, her family filed a lawsuit to annul her marriage to her husband, Daniel Wani but the case was later dropped without explanation.
The Ibrahim case has helped shine a critical spotlight on Sudan’s judicial system, which came under unprecedented pressure to repeal the sentence.
Her sentence drew widespread international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it “abhorrent”. The US state department said it was “deeply disturbed” by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.
The European Parliament passed a resolution on July 17 condemning the case, saying Ibrahim’s treatment was “degrading and inhumane”.
UK prime minister David Cameron told The Times that he was “absolutely appalled” when he learnt of the death sentence against Ibrahim and called for lifting the “barbaric” verdict.
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