Sudan woman sentenced to death for Christian faith re-arrested, then freed again

(Photo: REUTERS / Hamad I Mohammed)Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir attends the closing ceremony of the 25th Arab Summit in Kuwait City, March 26, 2014. The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, wrote to Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir in June about religious freedom after a Sudanese court sentenced Meriam Ibrahim to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

One day after Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who refused to renounce her faith, was released from death row in Sudan she was arrested with her husband and two children at Khartoum airport.

But hours later she was released the BBC reported. The BBC showed footage of U.S, spokesperson confirming she had been released in a day of drama for the family.

"They were temporarily detained for several hours over questions related to their documents," Marie Harf, State Department spokesperson told journalists.

She said the Sudanese government had assured the United States that Ibrahim and her family were safe.

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They were arrested as the family was trying to leave the north eastern African country, her legal team told CNN on Tuesday.

Ibrahim, who is 27, her American husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children were stopped and then detained and interrogated at Khartoum's national security headquarters, the legal team said.

Details about why the family was held weren't immediately available.

In a telephone call to CNN Wani, said that he and his family were being held at the national security office, but he did not provide details.

Details about why the family was held weren't immediately available.

Wani also said that he and his family were being held at the national security office, but did not provide details.

The re-arrest came after a man claiming to be Ibrahim's brother spoke of seeking retribution, claiming that Christians had tarnished his Islamic family's honor through the case, CNN reported.

One of Ibrahim's relatives, who is a Muslim had filed the original criminal complaint saying her family was shocked to find she had married Wani, a Christian.

(Image: Amnesty International)

The court ruled Ibrahim to be a Muslim as her father was Muslim, but she said she had been brought up as Christian.

She was charged with adultery, because a Muslim woman's marriage to a Christian man is illegal in Sudan, and with apostasy, accused of illegally renouncing her original faith.

On Monday Ibrahim was freed after a court ruling, the official news agency in the northeast African country said Monday.

"The appeal court ordered the release of Meriam Ibrahim and the cancellation of the [previous] court ruling," Sudan's SUNA news agency reported.

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The case of Ibrahim who gave birth to a child in jail and who was sentenced to death for not renouncing her faith, triggered international outrage and condemnation.

A lower Sudan court convicted her of apostasy for marrying a Christian and the country's laws deem the conversion of Muslims to other religions, a crime punishable by death.

Another court in Khartoum had upheld her sentence after she refused to renounce her Christianity and the death sentence was to be imposed when her new-born girl is two-years-old. Before that she was to face 100 whip lashes as part of her punishment for being a Christian.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, wrote to Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir to "prevent the implementation of this unjust and unconscionable sentence."

Tveit wrote on May 23, "Whether Mrs Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was born of Muslim parents or Christian parents, such a sentence runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Sudanese Constitution."

He noted that according to the Sudanese constitution all citizens have the "right to the freedom of religious creed and worship."

A petition calling Ibrahim's release by Amnesty International drew more than 900,000 signatures.

Authorities warned her to renounce Christianity by May 15, but she did not. She was convicted and sentenced last month to suffer 100 lashes and then be hanged.

Ibrahim said her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, raised her as a Christian, with Ibrahim's Sudanese Muslim father abandoning her when she was 6.

"I am a Christian," she said during her sentencing in May, "and I will remain a Christian."

(Source: Gabriel Wani Facebook page)Meriam Ibrahim who was raised in a Christian family and with her husband Daniel Wani, a Sudanese biochemist who lives in the United States, photographed in a Khartoum chapel in 2011.
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