Facing death, Sudanese woman relied on her faith
Sep. 16, 2014
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) — The Sudanese woman imprisoned for refusing to reject Christianity said in a televised interview airing Monday night that she was resolved to keep her faith even if it meant death.
Meriam Ibrahim, who now lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy, the abandonment of a religion. Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an Orthodox Christian. She married Daniel Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in 2011. Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, and children must follow their fathers' religions.
In an interview on Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File," Ibrahim said she was given three days to recant her faith after being found guilty.
"While I was in prison, some people came to visit me from the Muslim Scholars Association," she said, according to a transcript provided by Fox ahead of the broadcast. "These were imams that created an intervention by reciting parts of the Koran for me. I faced a tremendous amount of pressure.
"I had my trust in God," she said. "My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with imams and Muslim scholars, because that's what I believe."
Sudan initially blocked Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. The family took refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. The family returned to Manchester on Aug. 1.
Manchester, a city of 110,000 residents about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Boston, has been a magnet for immigrants and refugees for decades. There are about 500 Sudanese living in the city.
Ibrahim was pregnant during her imprisonment and said her daughter, Maya, was born under difficult conditions.
"I was supposed to give birth at a hospital outside of prison but they denied that request as well," she said. "When it was time to give birth, they refused to remove the chains from my ankles. So I had to give birth with chains on my ankles."
She said in the Fox interview that she refused to bend to her captors' demands.
"If I did that that would mean that I gave up," she said. "It's my right to follow the religion of my choice. I am not the only one suffering from this problem. There are many Meriams in Sudan and throughout the world."