Faith

Sudanese Christian tells of pressures, prison for holding on to her faith

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman imprisoned for refusing to reject Christianity, had been resolved not to bend even if it meant death. Here she is pictured on July 31 as she arrived in Manchester, N.H., where she now lives.
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman imprisoned for refusing to reject Christianity, had been resolved not to bend even if it meant death. Here she is pictured on July 31 as she arrived in Manchester, N.H., where she now lives. The Associated Press

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman imprisoned for refusing to reject Christianity, said in a televised interview that she had been resolved not to bend even if it meant death.

“If I did that that would mean that I gave up,” she said. “It’s my right to follow the religion of my choice. I am not the only one suffering from this problem. There are many Meriams in Sudan and throughout the world.”

Ibrahim, who now lives in Manchester, N.H., was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy, the abandonment of a religion.

Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an Orthodox Christian. She married Daniel Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in 2011. Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, and children must follow their father’s religion.

In an interview on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” that aired earlier this week, Ibrahim said she was given three days to recant her faith after being found guilty.

“While I was in prison, some people came to visit me from the Muslim Scholars Association,” she said, according to a transcript provided by Fox. “These were imams that created an intervention by reciting parts of the Qur’an for me. I faced a tremendous amount of pressure.

“I had my trust in God,” she said. “My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with imams and Muslim scholars, because that’s what I believe.”

Sudan initially blocked Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. The family took refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum and later traveled to New Hampshire.

Manchester, a city of 110,000, has been a magnet for immigrants and refugees for decades. There are about 500 Sudanese living in the city.

Ibrahim was pregnant during her imprisonment and said her daughter, Maya, was born under difficult conditions.

“I was supposed to give birth at a hospital outside of prison but they denied that request as well,” she said. “When it was time to give birth, they refused to remove the chains from my ankles. So I had to give birth with chains on my ankles.”

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