Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for apotasy, arrived in Rome with her family on her way to the U.S. Ibrahim was given a private audience with the Pope.
Ibrahim's case provoked international outrage, which helped win her freedom.
Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. Even though her father deserted the family when she was six years old and she was raised as Christian, she was considered a Muslim by sharia law practiced in Sudan. Accordingly, it is forbidden for a Muslim to convert from Islam to another religion.
Such conversions are considered a crime punishable by death. Since her father was a Muslim, she was regarded as having left Islam. The judge in the case gave Meriam a choice to "revert" to Islam or die. Meriam refused to recant her Christian faith and was sentenced to death.
In addition, since Muslim women are forbidden to marry non-Muslim men, the court also convicted her of having committed "zena" (illegitimate sex), punishable by 100 lashes.
The punishment was to be meted out after she recovered from the birth of her daughter, who was born in the Sudanese prison where Ibrahim was held since February.
Ibrahim is married to a naturalized U.S. citizen and Christian, Daniel Wani, a 27-year-old biochemist who is in a wheelchair since he suffers from muscular dystrophy. Wani initially tried – to no avail – to obtain help from the United States since Ibrahim's ordeal began when she was turned in by her brother last year for "dishonoring the family" by becoming a Christian and marrying a Christian.
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