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Sudanese Christian Woman 'Freed' After Sentenced to Death for Her Faith

( [email protected] ) Jun 23, 2014 01:11 PM EDT
Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death by the Sudanese government for failing to renounce her Christian faith. Imprisoned with her 20 month old son, Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl while in shackles.  The international community responded with force following the sentencing, demanding her freedom. Today, Ibrahim was released from prison and reunited with her husband, Daniel Wani.
Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl while imprisoned. (BBC)

Today marks a joyous occasion, as a Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith has been freed from jail, her lawyer told the BBC.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, and her two young children reunited with her husband after getting out of custody. An appeals court found that an initial judgment against her was faulty, her lawyer revealed.

"We are very very happy about this - and we're going to her now," Meriam Ibrahim's lawyer Elshareef Ali told BBC Focus on Africa.

"They have released her... she's on her way to home," he said.

Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith, and sentenced to die by hanging in May while she was eight months pregnant. In addition to the death sentence, the court convicted her of adultery and sentenced her to 100 lashes.

While imprisoned, along with her 20 month old son, Ibrahim gave birth to a girl whom she named "Maya."

Mr Ali said Ms Ibrahim had shown "extraordinary courage" during her ordeal.

"It's a victory for freedom of religion in Sudan... By Mariam's strong position, we believe that in the future no-one will be subjected to such a trial," he said.

Ibrahim's Christian husband, Daniel Wani, uses a wheelchair and "totally depends on [Ibrahim] for all details of his life," her lawyer said. While his wife was in prison, Wani said he was "just praying," relying on God for his strength.

Now, he's hoping to leave Sudan with his family as soon as possible, BBC reports.

Ibrahim says her father was a Sudanese Muslim and her mother was Ethiopian Orthodox. Her father left when she was 6, and she was raised as a Christian.

The court had warned her to renounce her Christianity by May 15, but she held firm to her beliefs, telling them, "I am, and always have been, a Christian." However, because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her one too, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

Her original sentence had drawn international condemnation from rights groups and foreign embassies in Khartoum, including those of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

.he former Prime Minister Tony Blair called the case a "brutal and sickening distortion of faith".

The US State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by Ms Ibrahim's sentence, and Hillary Clinton described it as "abhorrent"

David Cameron, Tony Blair, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all called for her release, and a petition to secure her freedom gathered over 700,000 signatures, and an Amnesty International campaign has followed Ms Ibrahim's story since it emerged last month, while a Change.org online petition has received more than 980,000 signatures.

Mr. Wani told BBC that he is extremely grateful for the international community's support and is looking forward to a new life with his family.