Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Exiled family returns to Somaliland

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Stability still a struggle ahead of 2015 elections

Read more

DEBATE

Rape as a Weapon of War: How to Stop Impunity in Eastern Congo?

Read more

DEBATE

Rape as a Weapon of War: How to Stop Impunity in Eastern Congo? (part 2)

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Interview with José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Read more

FOCUS

Indian uranium mines take heavy toll on locals and environment

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Provocative sculpture 'unplugged'

Read more

ENCORE!

Encore's Film Show: Brad Pitt's 'Fury' and Woody Allen's Magic

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: The mid-term blues

Read more

Africa

Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

© Osservatore Romano/AFP | Meriam Ibrahim meets Pope Francis

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2014-07-25

Pope Francis met privately on Thursday at the Vatican with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, which was commuted in June.

The Vatican characterised the visit with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children as “very affectionate.”

The 30-minute encounter took place just hours after the family landed at Rome’s Ciampino airport, accompanied by an Italian diplomat who helped negotiate her release, and welcomed by Italy’s premier, who hailed it as a “day of celebration.”

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope “thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity.” Francis frequently calls attention to the suffering of those persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Lombardi said the presence of “their wonderful small children” added to the affectionate tone of the meeting. Video footage released by the Vatican shows the pope giving the family papal medals and rosaries.

Ibrahim held her sleeping infant as she stepped off the plane from Sudan, which had initially blocked her from leaving the country even after the country’s highest court overturned her death sentence in June. An Italian diplomat carried her 18-month-old son, while her husband, Daniel Wani, who is disabled, joined them on the tarmac in a wheelchairm.

Ibrahim and her family are expected to spend a few days in Rome before heading to the United States, where her husband is a citizen. Ibrahim’s husband had lived in New Hampshire.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy. She married Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith.

The sentence, issued in May, was condemned by the United States, the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, and both the United States and Italy – a strong death penalty opponent with long ties to the Horn of Africa region – worked to win her release.

Sudan’s high court threw out her death sentence in June, but she was then blocked from leaving the country by authorities who questioned the validity of her travel documents.

Lapo Pistelli, an Italian diplomat who accompanied the family from Sudan, said Italy was able to leverage its ties within the region. “We had the patience to speak to everyone in a friendly way. This paid off in the end,” he said.

(AP)
 

Date created : 2014-07-24

  • SUDAN

    Sudan detains Christian woman sentenced to hang

    Read more

  • SUDAN

    Sudan frees woman sentenced to hang for 'converting'

    Read more

  • SUDAN

    Sudan sentences pregnant Christian woman to death for apostasy

    Read more

COMMENT(S)