By BosNewsLife Africa Service
KHARTOUM, SUDAN (BosNewsLife)– A Sudanese woman who was to be executed for refusing to abandon her faith in Jesus Christ walked out of prison Monday, June 23, after a Khartoum court cancelled her sentence.
Sudan’s official news agency SUNA said the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentence against 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim and ordered her release.
She left the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in the capital Khartoum, accompanied by her 20-month-old son, Martin, and 4-week-old daughter, Maya, the defense team said.
Ibrahim, a medical doctor, was “reunited with her husband” in their south Khartoum home “after getting out of custody,” added her lawyer Mohaned Mustafa El-Nour.
Her release ended an ordeal that began in May when a lower court told Ibrahim, who was eight months pregnant, she would receive 100 lashes and die by hanging for “apostasy” and “adultery” after marrying a Christian.
Other Sudanese were convicted on similar charges, but they reportedly escaped execution by renouncing their new faith. The lower Khartoum court said however that the young woman refused to return to Islam.
Her husband, Daniel Wani, confirmed at the time that his wife was committed to her Christian faith. “They brought in sheikhs and she told them: “I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind”, he quoted her as saying.
Amid the turmoil, Ibrahim eventually gave birth to a girl behind bars last month.
Monday’s turnaround came after the sentence had drawn global condemnation from rights groups and foreign embassies in Khartoum, including those of the United States, Britain and Canada.
Wani, a U.S. citizen since 2005, said earlier that mounting international pressure had a significant impact on Sudanese authorities. He said he felt overwhelmed by “the way people have come together around the world” to protest against his wife’s sentence.
Wani, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. After he married Ibrahim, he took steps to bring her to the United States.
Her case has underscored concerns over the situation of minority Christians in heavily Islamic Sudan.
Ibrahim married Wani, a Christian man from southern Sudan, in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their religion, observers say.
Sudanese President Omar Bashir, an Islamist who seized power in a 1989 military coup, has reportedly said his country will implement Islam more strictly now that the non-Muslim south is gone.
The south seceded in 2011 to become the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.