WASHINGTON (BP) -- A Sudanese appeals court has rescinded the death sentence of a Christian woman who refused to renounce her faith and has freed her two small children and her from prison.
"We can all learn from her example, to hold fast to the testimony of Jesus, whatever the cost."
--Russell D. Moore
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, 27, gained her freedom Monday (June 23) after the court overturned rulings issued by a Khartoum judge, Bloomberg News reported. Ibrahim, whose conviction and death sentence were greeted by international protests, was convicted under Sharia law for "apostasy" (leaving Islam) and sentenced to death by hanging. She also received a sentence of 100 lashes for adultery on the basis of her marriage to a Christian, Daniel Wani, a South Sudanese-born citizen of the United States.
Ibrahim gave birth to the couple's second child, a daughter, Maya, May 27 in the Omdurman Federal Prison for Women in Khartoum. Martin, their 20-month-old son, had been imprisoned with his mother since February.
Ibrahim and Wani were together after her release, one of her lawyers said. Elshareef Ali told Bloomberg from Khartoum the appeals court ruling was a victory "for freedom of faith in Sudan."
"The court canceled all the decisions taken against her.... She is now free to go anywhere," he said.
Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., an advocate for Ibrahim's release, had an idea where she should go. "This is a huge first step," said Smith, who discussed Ibrahim's case June 20 with Sudan's ambassador to the United States. "But the second step is that Ms. Ibrahim and her husband and their children be on a plane and heading to the United States."
The Southern Baptist Convention's lead religious freedom advocate commended Ibrahim's release and her testimony.
"I am grateful to God for this welcome news," Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said. "In her faithfulness, Meriam has been a living picture of Jesus keeping his promise that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Meriam is exactly what the Apostle Peter called a daughter of Sarah, one who does not fear that which is frightening. We can all learn from her example, to hold fast to the testimony of Jesus, whatever the cost.
"While we rejoice in her release," he said in a statement for Baptist Press, "let's remember that many others of our brothers and sisters around the world are being jailed and exiled and tortured for the sake of the gospel."
Moore was among those who protested Ibrahim's sentence and imprisonment. He called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a May 20 letter to condemn the sentence as "cruel and inhumane, to demand her release, and to use the diplomatic influence of the State Department to advocate for this most fundamental human right, the freedom of religion and belief." Read More