Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, sentenced to flogging and hanging for refusing to denounce her Christian faith, has given birth to a baby girl in a Sudanese prison clinic, without the presence of her American husband, who was denied permission to be at the delivery. The international community has reacted in horror to her brutal sentencing, with several US lawmakers pleading with John Kerry and President Obama to give political asylum to the young mother and her small toddler, who is languishing in prison with her.
Before the birth Monday, Rep. Frank Wolf had delivered this statement from the floor of the House:
“It is 7 p.m. in Khartoum, and a young, frightened Sudanese woman is shackled in a prison cell for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Her husband, an American citizen, is seeking to draw attention to her plight and that of her 18-month old son who languishes in jail with her.
“Meriam Ibrahim is eight months pregnant and her draconian sentence of death by hanging is being delayed until she gives birth. The clock is ticking.
“Congressman Trent Franks has sought to shine a bright light on this injustice. Today we join Senators Blunt and Ayotte in urging Secretary of State John Kerry to provide political asylum to Meriam.
“The administration must urgently act to save this innocent woman’s life. President Obama should immediately appeal for her release and offer safe haven.”
Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., have also written Secretary of State John Kerry requesting amnesty for Ibrahim.
“We request your immediate action and full diplomatic engagement to offer Meriam political asylum and to secure her and her son’s safe release,” the letter read.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., called Ibrahim’s sentence an “abhorrent violation of fundamental freedoms and universal rights.”
“No man or woman anywhere should be treated as a criminal, much less sentenced to hanging for exercising the basic right of religious choice,” she said.
Other lawmakers are also speaking out on behalf of Meriam. From a press release:
“U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today urged the U.S. State Department to use every means of leverage at its disposal to ensure the release of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, a pregnant Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging for apostasy because she married a Christian man. Ms. Ibrahim is married to Daniel Wani, a man originally from Sudan with U.S. citizenship living in New Hampshire.
“Meriam is eight months pregnant and is being held in a women’s prison in Sudan with her nearly two-year-old son. She has done nothing wrong. No man or woman anywhere should be sentenced to death by hanging for exercising the basic right of religious freedom,” Shaheen and Shea-Porter wrote.
They continued, “Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and her toddler must be released immediately, and we urge the State Department to use every means of leverage at its disposal to ensure the release of this young woman and her son…”
And what has been the response of The State Department to national and international calls for help for Meriam and her son? For one, they refuse to confirm whether the husband and young son are actually U. S. citizens. But, they’re “happy to check and see if there’s more to share…”
According to Meriam’s husband, Daniel Wani, who spoke to Morning Star News, “The couple’s toddler boy is a U.S. citizen by virtue of his father’s U.S. citizenship, but Wani said U.S. Embassy officials in Khartoum have told him he must prove he is the father with a DNA test before they would try to help.
“I will have to take a DNA sample in Khartoum, then send it to the USA for testing,” Wani said. “I have provided wedding documents and the baby’s birth certificate, and doors were closed on his face.”
Wani told Morning Star News that when he called the U.S. Embassy on April 9, a representative in Khartoum told him they did not care about the case.
“I have tried to apply for papers to travel to the USA with my wife and child, but the American Embassy in Sudan did not help me,” Wani said. “My son is an American citizen living in a difficult situation in prison…”
At a State Department press briefing, CNS News questioned the allegations made by Wani. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki was quoted the statement from Daniel Wani in the Morning Star News.
“First,” CNSNews.com asked Psaki, “is Meriam Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen? And is that 20-month-old boy in prison, by virtue of being his son, also a U.S. citizen?”
“Well, I don’t have any more details on this than what the statement the White House put out,” said Psaki. “Typically we don’t confirm those type of details, but I’m happy to check and see if there’s more to share.”
“You don’t know whether that little boy in prison is a U.S. citizen?” CNSNews.com asked.
“I don’t have any more details to share,” Psaki said.
CNSNews.com asked: “Did the embassy in Khartoum ask Mr. Wani to provide DNA evidence that that was his son?”
Psaki said: “We’re happy to check and see if there’s more to share.”
“You don’t know whether that’s the case?” CNSNews.com asked.
“Happy to check and see if there’s more to share,” she repeated.
Then CNSNews.com asked: “So, as of this moment, the U.S. government does not know whether that 20-month-old boy in prison in Sudan is an American citizen imprisoned because he’s a Christian?”
Psaki said: “I think I’ve addressed your questions, and I’m happy to follow up with you after the briefing.”
Oh, by the way. The State Department did request compassion for Meriam from the Sudanese government.
In a statement issued by deputy department spokesperson, Marie Harf said it understood the court sentence can be appealed and urged Sudanese authorities to show compassion. “We continue to call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, a right which is enshrined in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution, as well as international human rights law,” said Harf.
“We call on the Sudanese legal authorities to approach this case with the compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” she added.
Compassion? Compassion from the Sudanese government? What is John Kerry thinking? I doubt the word “compassion” exists in the vocabulary of these men who have proven they are nothing more than animals– capable of imprisoning an eight month pregnant woman because of her faith, shackling her swollen ankles to a bed because of her faith, making her deliver her baby, not in a hospital, but in a prison because of her faith, and who will undoubtedly relish flogging her with 100 lashes because of her faith, and then gleefully hanging her by her neck because of her faith. The State Department asking for compassion is equivalent to asking the sun not to shine.
What is needed is “compassion” from The United States Government, in the form of political asylum for Meriam and her family. NOW.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock…