The Sudanese-American citizen, Mariam Ibrahim and her family have finally left Sudan. This is very good news. After the ineffectual efforts of the U.S. officials in the effort to free Mariam, it was Italian or Vatican diplomacy that finally worked and the family was finally allowed to leave. They have reached Italy and had a 30 minute audience with Pope Francis.
Mariam’s story is worth telling. Her father is a Muslim, but her mother is a Christian Orthodox and Mariam was raised as a Christian Orthodox, not as a Muslim. The father deserted the family when Mariam was 2 years old. For whatever reason, probably something to do with property rights, Mariam’s father and half-brother denounced her to Islamic authorities and she was charged with apostasy. The claim is that she was a Muslim but this is not accurate.
Mariam was sentenced to death as an apostate, but for once the world intervened and eventually a higher court set Mariam free. However, as the family attempted to leave Khartoum, her step-brother convinced authorities to arrest her again (this time she was arrested at the airport). The trumped up charge related to her passport with the claim that she had lied (that she was a Christian and not a Muslim). The South Sudanese government officials had issued her with the passport and they said it was a legitimate passport but to no avail. Mariam and her family were then taken to the U.S. consulate where they stayed until they were finally freed.
Any efforts of the U.S. were entirely ineffective. It took intervention from the Vatican to get Mariam freed once and for all. It is extremely good news that Mariam has made it to Vatican City, on her way home to the U.S.A.