Meriam Ibrahim's Muslim Family Drops Lawsuit in Sudan, May Allow Her to Return Home

( [email protected] ) Jul 17, 2014 05:20 PM EDT
Meriam Ibrahim's Islamic relatives have dropped the lawsuit against her, which may pave the way for Ibrahim and her family to return to the United States.
Daniel Wani with his wife, Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith (Photo: GABRIEL WANI)

Meriam Ibrahim and her family may finally be allowed to depart to the United States, as a lawsuit brought against the young mother by her father to formerly establish her as his Muslim daughter was officially dropped on Wednesday.

"We are no longer proceeding with the lawsuit," Abdel Rahman Malek, said the relative's lawyer, reports the Chicago Tribune.

He declined to further clarify the decision.

The case of Ibrahim, 25, gained international attention when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American. Despite the harsh sentence, Ibrahim refused to renounce her Christian faith.

 "I was never a Muslim," she told the court, "I was raised a Christian and have always been a Christian." She explained that was born and raised a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by a Muslim family.

Although an appeals court retracted the death sentence last month, the Sudanese government accused her of trying to leave Sudan with falsified South Sudanese travel papers, preventing her departure for America with her husband and two children.

Sudanese officials also refused to recognize her identity as a Christian, and the ongoing lawsuit filed by her family impeded her departure. Currently, Ibrahim and her family have been staying at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum since her release from police custody.

Ibrahim's experience in prison was not without trauma; she was forced to give birth while shackled to the floor of her cell. Many expressed concern that her daughter, Maya, is physically disabled as a result. However, a doctor who inspected the baby girl says he believes she is fine, but will need an ultrasound to confirm.

During Ibrahim's stay in prison, the international community repeatedly called upon the Sudanese government for her release.

Persecution watchdog groups and U.S. lawmakers have pushed for Ibrahim and her family to be granted safe passage to America, saying the young mother's religious freedoms had been violated.

Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) backed the passage of a bill that reauthorized the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal commission focused on defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

"As someone with deeply-held religious convictions, I believe that everyone has the fundamental right to profess their faith and practice their religion wherever in the world they may live. As Miriam Ibrahim remains safe but in legal limbo at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, it is imperative we maintain vigilance in protecting religious freedom abroad," said Hultgren.

 "By nature, every human being is given certain rights, including the fundamental right of belief, which no government can justly attack. It is in the common interest of humankind to defend those persecuted for expressing their beliefs and practicing their religion."