Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the 27-year-old woman sentenced to 100 lashes and death for the crime of apostasy in Sudan in May, arrived in Rome on 24 July with her family. The Italian government negotiated permission for their departure with the Sudanese authorities.
Mrs. Ibrahim and her family are expected to stay a few days in Italy before leaving for the US. Mrs Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, holds a US passport.
Mrs Ibrahim was sentenced under Article 126 of the Sudanese criminal law concerning apostasy – leaving the religion of Islam and converting to another religion. She gave birth to her daughter in jail. The death sentence was to be carried out when her daughter turned two.
Uniting Church members supported a global letter-writing campaign to overturn the conviction. Mrs Ibrahim was released from jail following a successful court appeal, however she and her family were subsequently detained at Khartoum airport as they tried to leave the country.
Although confusion still surrounds the case, reports suggest that family members filed a lawsuit to have Mrs Ibrahim (who was raised as a Christian) declared a Muslim and prevented from leaving the country. She was also investigated in relation to travelling under forged documents.
Vicki Salkin, from advocacy group Middle East Concern, wrote to Mark Zirnsak, director of the Justice and Internal Mission unit, with the latest positive news on the case.
“I am glad to inform you that earlier today Mrs Meriam Ibrahim and her family were allowed to leave Sudan. Around 9.30am (local time in Italy) they arrived in Rome on a Italian government airplane,” Ms Salkin wrote.
“Mrs Meriam and her family are grateful for all your efforts on her behalf.”