She was free–for less than twenty four hours. Meriam Ibrahim, charged with apostasy and adultery, was sentenced to be flogged with 100 lashes and, if that didn’t kill her, to be hung by her neck, after she refused to renounce her Christian faith. After much of the international community reacted with outrage and world leaders exerted pressure for her release, Meriam was finally freed by the Sudanese appeals court–only to find herself back behind bars again. Her crime? Forgery.
“The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy and carrying an American visa,” Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services’ media department said on Facebook, referring to Ibrahim by her Muslim name. “The Sudanese authorities considered [the action] a criminal violation, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors,” it added.
Meriam and her family were seized by the National Intelligence and Security Service as they attempted to board a plane at Khartaum Airport. The 27-year-old was arrested along with her American husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children, Martin, almost two, and Maya, two weeks old. Under Sudan’s penal code, forging a document is punishable by up to five years in prison. Ms Ibrahim’s lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said that she is expected to stay in police custody for 24 hours while authorities in Khartoum insist that she had been detained in accordance with Sudanese law.
“They have refused to release her on bail,” said Elshareef Ali Mohammed, one of her lawyers. He said that the Sudanese security services and intelligence agencies told them they need 24 hours for further investigations.They have accused her of providing incorrect information, and of obtaining a fake travel document,” he told The Telegraph.
“This document has been officially issued from the embassies of South Sudan and the US. South Sudan’s embassy has confirmed this – but they are reluctant to release her.”
Meriam’s supposed “brother” had previously told CNN: “It’s one of two; if she repents and returns to our Islamic faith and to the embrace of our family, then we are her family and she is ours, but if she refuses she should be executed”. Now, however, the brother doesn’t appear to condone the actions regarding the release and re-arrest of Meriam taken by the Sudanese government.
Al Samani Al Hadi Mohamed Abdullah has claimed that Ms. Ibrahim was “kidnapped” upon her release and spirited away without her consent. He told Sudan’s Al Intibaha newspaper – founded by the uncle of President Omar Bashir – that she should have been shepherded to the family, and not her husband, when she left prison.
“They did not let us know that she was about to be freed,” he said. “It was a surprise for us.” “Our family is not convinced by the decision of the court. The law has failed to maintain our rights, and now it is a matter of honour. Christians deface our honour, and we know how to take revenge for that.”
As the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors wrangle over the fate of Meriam with Sudan, who continuously claim that this is a legal issue and not a religious one, we should thank the Sudanese government for not informing Al Samani Al Hadi Mohamed Abdullah and the rest of the family of Meriam’s release. Let’s also give them a special “shout-out” for not “shepherding” her back to them. We can just imagine the homecoming those barbarians would have given Meriam.