Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian mother formerly imprisoned for her faith in the Republic of Sudan, has criticized those who seek to capitalize on her story without authorization, asserting that those who do so are imposing a "new persecution" on herself and her family.
Ibrahim's story made headlines last year after Sudan's government sentenced her to death for crimes of apostasy and adultery for marrying Daniel Wani, an American Christian citizen. Imprisoned along with her young son, Ibrahim gave birth to her second child while in chains. For three consecutive days, she refused to renounce her Christian faith despite continued pressure from the Sudanese government. Eventually, the Sudanese court cleared the Christian mother of all charges following outrage from the international community. Though she was later detained again on the charge of carrying a false passport, Ibrahim was eventually allowed to leave Sudan and come to America with her family.
Since then, Ibrahim has boldly shared her testimony on a number of occasions, and revealed it was her faith that allowed her to get through the difficult times in prison. However, while she and her husband have been in conversation with filmmakers and authors about telling their story, Ibrahim has remained critical of those who attempt to do so without authorization.
Recently, Italian journalist and activist Antonella Napoli wrote a book detailing Ibrahim's ordeal, titled Il mio nome è Meriam (My Name is Meriam). Napoli, who spearheaded the Italian campaign for Ibrahim's release, revealed that she decided to document Ibrahim's journey after interviewing the couple at the US Embassy in Khartoum because their release was also a significant event in her own life.
"I am a journalist, but also a human rights activist," she told Christian Today, explaining that she was entitled to write about events she had witnessed and taken part in herself. Doing so, Napoli argued, was continuing to help other Christians persecuted in Sudan, including two pastors at risk of the death penalty.
In response, Ibrahim told the news source that being written about without permission felt like "new persecution from some weak people who do not know the meaning of faith, but are working to collect money from the tears of the oppressed".
She said that writing unauthorized books was to "plunder my right to make my story to the world by the way that I choose it".
The Christian mother added that the publishers were "killing me and the whole of my family", saying that the book was "like the rope around my head".
This is not the first time Ibrahim has objected to the unauthorized use of her story. Earlier this year, a film featuring her plight titled I Am A Christian, set to star Stacey Dash and Kevin Sorbo, was cancelled after Ibrahim refused to support its creation, insisting that production company Christian Lives Matter was "taking advantage" of her family. At the time, she said she had hoped the filmmakers would be on her side because they were Christians, but felt that instead, they were "killing me and killing my dream"
In an interview with the Christian Post, Wani echoed his wife's sentiments in stating that he was "not happy" with how the filmmakers went ahead with the movie without his permission, and stated that he found their behavior "very offensive. "We're sick and tired of everyone using our name(s)," he told the news source.
Dennis Baker, Ibrahim and Wani's manager, explained at the time that the couple's objections to their story being told without their permission stems entirely from the fact that they want it told correctly.
"[The filmmakers] kept saying it's based on her story, but then they also said, 'Well, we're making a fictionalized version," Baker told the AFP. "Either way, it was totally unbeknownst to Mariam and it was very frustrating and it upset her, because it just isn't fair that someone would go ahead and make a story about her life when 75 percent of her story is still in her head, in her mind. She hasn't shared it all. She's only shared bits and pieces and if they make a story based on just the little bits and pieces that's out there in the media, they're touching the tip of the iceberg of the story. Then to feel like they can confidently go out there and make a story about her and share her passion and courage and heartache and all the things that she went through, it just doesn't make any sense. That's why she was upset about that. That's really all there was to it."