Meriam Ibrahim, a young Christian mother from Sudan who refused to renounce her faith even after she was placed on death row for it, is expected to fly from Rome to New Hampshire with her family this week to settle in Manchester, her brother-in-law said.
After arriving in the United States, Ibrahim's family is likely to visit Washington, D.C. first to thank those who contributed to their release, The Associated Press reports, quoting her brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, who lives in Manchester with his wife and their three daughters.
Ibrahim and her family — her husband, Daniel Wani, their son, Martin, and their daughter, Maya, who was born in prison in Sudan just two months ago — will settle in Manchester, which is home to a Sudanese Christian community and church.
Ibrahim and her family flew from Sudan to Italy last Thursday, and Gabriel has spoken with her family by phone several times since then.
Ibrahim's husband, Daniel, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. "His plan all along was to bring his family to New Hampshire," Gabriel told KSAT 12. "I was crying. He said they were coming to New Hampshire. This is his place now," Gabriel said of a phone call he received from his brother.
Members of the southern Sudanese community in Manchester plan to receive Ibrahim's family at the airport, and the Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church is preparing to host a welcome reception for them.
Since Ibrahim's release, southern Sudanese people have been visiting Gabriel's home. "A lot of people have been waiting for them," Gabriel was quoted as saying. "The whole community wants to welcome them."
The two brothers and their sister, Mary, were among the first southern Sudanese refugees to resettle in Manchester. Daniel is board chairman of the South Sudan Community of New Hampshire, a nonprofit that provides translators, English classes, tuition for children and outreach services.
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While Ibrahim's death sentence was overturned by a court a few weeks ago, she was arrested again on June 24 while she and her family were trying to leave Sudan to go to the United States. She was eventually released and allowed to leave the country.
Ibrahim was convicted on April 30, and was given three days to recant her Christian faith on May 11. "The court has sentenced you to be hanged until you are dead," Judge Abaas Al Khalifa told her on May 15 after she refused to forsake Christianity.
Ibrahim was accused by her Muslim relatives, and sent to jail on Feb. 17. She was kept at the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison in North Khartoum with her son.
Ibrahim's father was a Sudanese Muslim who left her when she was just 6 years old. She was raised by her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox. However, Sudan's Islamic law recognized her as a Muslim because her father was one. It also considered her relationship with her Christian husband as "illicit."
After her release and departure from Sudan, Ibrahim met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta, accompanied by her husband and two children, according to the Official Vatican Network, NEWS.VA. Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who helped arrange her flight from Sudan and traveled with her to Italy, was also present at the meeting.
Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, head of the Vatican Press Office, said the meeting happened in a "very serene and affectionate" environment. Pope Francis praised Ibrahim for her "courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith."
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