Meriam Ibrahim was greeted upon her arrival in the United States Thursday at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport by cheering friends, relatives, and fans. The Christian mother's safe exit from Sudan has been cause for celebration around the world.
Imprisoned for her Christian faith and marriage to a South Sudanese believer, Meriam Ibrahim endured the harsh realities of prison and an impending torturous execution upon the birth of her second child. Ibrahim was charged with apostasy for converting to Christianity because her father, who abandoned her as a child, was a Muslim. She was then charged with adultery for marrying a Christian man because Muslim women are not allowed to marry outside of Islam under the Sharia Law that is enforced in Sudan. Ibrahim insisted that she had been a Christian since she was a young girl, however, and refused to recant her faith. The Sudanese government eventually heeded the outcry of many diplomats and citizens around the world who called for Ibrahim's release.
After a series of events where a freed Ibrahim was kept from leaving the country, the Italian deputy minister for foreign affairs went to Sudan last week to arrange for her release and bring the family back with him to Rome.
After a brief stay in Italy, Ibrahim's family was warmly welcomed to the United States. The mayor of Philadelphia greeted her at the airport, and likened her stand for her Christian beliefs to Rosa Parks' fight for equality - "Meriam Ibrahim is a world freedom fighter," he said. Ibrahim has yet to make a public statement, but she was seen smiling widely, hugging and shaking hands with many who greeted her family. Her husband, Daniel Wani, sincerely thanked the community for their support - "Thank you so much ... I am so relieved," he said. "I can't describe that feeling," he said in tears when asked how it felt for his wife to be in the United States for the first time.
Wani and their two children are American citizens, and Ibrahim will be able to apply for her U.S. citizenship as well. Fox News reports that the Sudanese mother has been granted asylum by the United States and will meet with the State Department soon.
The family plans to settle in Manchester, New Hampshire, where a large community of Sudanese refugees have made their home.