(CNSNews.com) - Meriam Ibrahim--the Sudanese woman married to a naturalized U.S. citizen who refused to renounce her Christian faith even while facing a death sentence for it--will be honored later this month in Washington, D.C., at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.
“Meriam's bold stand for Jesus Christ as she faced death has touched the hearts of people in every nation,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. “Her incredible example of courage should inspire Christians in America to be bold and courageous in their faith as we witness growing religious hostility here in our country.”
Meriam, who was raised in Sudan as a Christian by her Christian mother after her Muslim father abandoned her family, married Daniel Wani in Khartoum in December 2011. Wani had moved to the United States from Sudan in 1998 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2005.
In November 2012, eleven months after they were married, Daniel and Meriam had their first child, Martin, in Sudan.
In May of this year, a Sudanese court convicted Ibrahim of “apostasy,” because her father had been a Muslim and she professed Christianity. The court also convicted her of “adultery” because it refused to recognize her marriage to a Christian as legitimate. The court sentenced her to die for her alleged “apostasy” and to be whipped for her purported “adultery.”
When Meriam was convicted, she was eight months pregnant and confined to the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in Sudan.
About two weeks after she had been sentenced to death, Ibrahim gave birth to a daughter, Maya. As reported by The Telegraph, she was in shackles in the prison when she delivered the baby.
Had Ibrahim been willing to renounce her Christian faith and embrace Islam, she would have been spared. But—even in the face of death--she refused to turn away from her faith.
Christian and conservative organizations and elected officials in both Europe and the United States expressed outrage at Sudan’s intention to kill Ibrahim because she was a Christian. In the U.S., the Family Research Council was a leading voice speaking out in her defense and urging U.S. government officials to take action to defend her life and her freedom of religion.
The White House and the U.S. State Department were not aggressive in pursuing Ibrahim’s cause—even though she was the wife of a U.S. citizen whose children were entitled to U.S. citizenship.
President Obama did not personally make a statement about her plight.
The State Department initially refused to confirm that her husband, Daniel Wani, was a U.S. citizen---only doing so after he had signed a Privacy Act waiver. The State Department then refused to say whether it recognized Daniel’s marriage to Meriam, or to recognize that Daniel and Meriam’s imprisoned children were in fact U.S. citizens.
The State Department instead demanded that Daniel Wani submit to a DNA test to prove he was the father of his children.
On June 23, Meriam was released from prison, but she and her husband were stopped at the airport from leaving the country. They then took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, until they were finally allowed to leave Sudan on July 24, when they flew to Rome. (The Daily Mail has published a timeline of her ordeal here.)
Daniel and Meriam met there with Pope Francis, who blessed their children. Then they travelled on to the United States.
Ibrahim will be making her first public appearance in the United States on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the FRC’s Value Voters Summit gala dinner. (The Media Research Center, of which CNSNews.com is a part, is a co-sponsor of the summit.)
"We are pleased to announce that Meriam Ibrahim will be honored at this year’s Values Voter Summit,” FRC President Perkins announced today.
“Meriam honored God by standing strong in her faith even through imprisonment and a death sentence,” said Perkins. “Our hope and prayer is that Meriam’s story will be shared as an encouragement to the thousands of Meriams who are looking toward America, hoping they are not forgotten and that someone will speak out on their behalf.”