Meriam Ibrahim, freed from Sudan, plans to settle in New Hampshire

After a visit with the pope last week, Meriam Ibrahim boarded a plane on July 31, 2014, and left Italy for the U.S.

ROME (RNS) Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian who was flown to Rome after her death sentence was overturned, is now dreaming of building a future in the U.S.

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who was nearly executed for apostasy for marrying a Christian man, and her daughter, Maya, meet Pope Francis at the Vatican after arriving in Italy on July 24, 2014, en route to the United States.

Photo courtesy L'Osservatore Romano

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who was nearly executed for apostasy for marrying a Christian man, and her daughter, Maya, meet Pope Francis at the Vatican after arriving in Italy on July 24, 2014, en route to the United States.

‘We will begin a new life,” Ibrahim told Antonella Napoli, head of Italians for Darfur, according to the daily La Repubblica.

“My husband, a chemist, lost his job because of my event. Now we will go to New Hampshire where my brother-in-law Gabriel lives. They will help us. We will be all together as a true family.”

Ibrahim, 27, was spared a death sentence for apostasy and then barred from leaving Sudan.

She was flown to Rome in secret by the Italian government on Thursday (July 24) with husband Daniel Wani, her 20-month-old son Martin, and daughter Maya, who was born in a Khartoum prison two months ago.

Wani has joint Sudanese-American citizenship and the family is expected to fly to the U.S. in the coming days.

Within hours of landing in Italy, Ibrahim and her family met with Pope Francis, who thanked her for her courage and staying true to her faith despite the threat of execution.

“I never believed I would fulfill my lifelong dream — to meet the pope,” Ibrahim reportedly said. “I have always wanted and only wanted my faith. The love of my husband is a gift from God.”

Ibrahim had been trapped in Sudan after her release from prison, where she had been awaiting execution for refusing to renounce Christianity. Even though she has been a Christian her entire life, Sudan considers her a Muslim because her father is Muslim.

She gave birth in chains to Maya in a Khartoum jail cell in May after her father claimed she had abandoned Islam and committed adultery with her Christian husband, as mixed-faith marriages are considered illegal.

“When I was asked to renounce my Christian faith, I knew what I was risking. But I did not want to renounce it,” Ibrahim told La Repubblica.

The Italian foreign ministry said Ibrahim was not available for media interviews; Napoli spoke to her via telephone.


About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.


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  • The irony.

    Meriam is settling in a state (New Hampshire) whose motto is “Live Free or Die.”
    But Christianity has a motto too: “to Love and Fear the Lord.”

    Freedom FROM fear
    is better than Freedom TO fear.

    Religion’s delusions are truly damaging – even when they look harmless.

  • To Atheist Max: Fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid. In this context the word fear actually means respect. How can one truly commit to anything out of fear? There is no love there.

  • Yet ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’; wisdom takes time – hopefully the one who ponders this will acquire it.

  • Meriam is a woman of great faith, great courage and great love of God, her faith and her family. God’s blessings on her and her family as they begin a new life in N. H. U.S.A. She is truly a saint

  • Proverbs 26:4 (NIV) Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.

    Though, what you say is truth, Lorri July 28, 2014 at 11:27 am and Gail July 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm – you might think about this before engaging. Do not let your pearls be trampled…. 🙂


  • Freedom TO fear God does not mean to be afraid of God. Where did you get that notion? How many people do you know that are “afraid” of God? Yes, we are always aware that He expects us to not sin, but even if we do, He is more forgiving than any human being could EVER be.

  • For Gail and Lorri. Keep up the good work, both your replies were exactly what you should say. “Do not be afraid, speak out, and refuse to be silenced; I am with thee, and none shall come near to do thee harm…” (Acts 18 9-10)

  • God bless Meriam. What an example of courage.
    I’m just worried that her place of residence is being disclosed… There could be retaliation by fundamentalist Islamists… I’d rather no one knew where she’d be.

  • Thank you Meriam Ibrahim for being a beautiful example to us of a Faithful Catholic. You are a precious soul and will be an inspiration to many who will have to endure the same treatment and who will have to give their lives for the
    True Faith.
    I was praying for you and will continue to pray for you and your family.
    God bless you dear Meriam! <3

  • I completely agree. Her residence really shouldn’t be disclosed, as well as the names of her relatives. It’s not safe and way too easy to track them down.

  • Welcome Miriam and family! You and your family are shining lights in this troubled world. The people of the USA are proud and happy to have you. Thank God!

  • Please know that Meriam and Family will need our prayers now more than ever. The world is watching. God is watching. May God bless them and enlighten all who have the privilege of meeting and knowing this precious family.