Apostasy woman Meriam Ibrahim

July 26, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who saw her death sentence for apostasy overturned, has been released after being accused of attempting to use forged travel documents by passport officials. Ms Ibrahim was detained along with her Christian-American husband Daniel Wani and two young children at Khartoum airport in Sudan for trying to use documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy to flee the country. Eman Abdul-Rahman, the lawyer for 27-year-old, said she was released from a police station after foreign diplomats pressed the government to free her.

In a statement issued on its Facebook page, Sudan’s security service said earlier this week that passport police had “arrested” Mr Ibrahim after she presented “emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy and carrying an American visa”.

Ms Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Orthodox Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian and refusing to renounce her Christian faith during a four-day grace period. She was sentenced to death while eight months pregnant and gave birth in prison with her legs chained in February. Her sentence sparked an international outcry and led to campaigns headed by Amnesty International calling for her release.

When rumour of her release from prison first surfaced, we didn’t dare to believe it. When it was confirmed by the Sudanese authorities, we began to have real hope. When she walked out of Omdurman women’s prison on Monday afternoon, we finally had faith: Meriam Ibrahim, after six months on death row for her religious beliefs, was free. What is happening in Sudan? Why the confusion? How can a woman whose incarceration caused headlines around the world – with Bill Clinton, David Cameron and Ban Ki-moon all discussing her case – be treated in such a way?

Sudanese media claim that the US vice consul was with them at the time of their arrest, and Ms Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, said that they were on their way to Washington DC. Mr Wani was born in South Sudan before independence, and has dual US citizenship. Suffering from muscular dystrophy, and in a wheelchair, he lives in New Hampshire and had been trying to secure permission for his wife to join him in the US when she was first arrested, in December. What appears to have irked the authorities is that they had not approved the family’s moves – or perhaps that her release was being seen as a global human rights victory.

With no direct flights from Sudan to the US, due to sanctions, South Sudan was to be a transit country. Washington placed sanctions on Sudan in 1993, listing Khartoum as state sponsor of terrorism for hosting prominent militants including Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal. It added a trade embargo in 1997.

The past few days have been mainly about politics. But in the beginning it was certainly about religion – Sudan imposed Sharia law in 1983, and apostasy is a crime punishable by death. Sudan hasn’t put anyone to death for apostasy since 1985, and the application of Sharia in the country is often clumsy, inconsistent and dictated by political whims. Furthermore, Ms Ibrahim’s case became muddied by claim and counter-claim as to her childhood faith. She insisted she was raised a Christian; other family members vehemently maintained she was a Muslim, and even the death penalty should be given if she did not return.

That added to suspicion that this wasn’t about religion, but rather a nasty family feud – to gain control, it was speculated, of Ms Ibrahim’s successful businesses. That the glamorous woman in the wedding photographs was imprisoned chained to the ground heavily pregnant, certainly resonated more because she was a woman. Would we have reacted with such anger if it was a man? She was arrested because her family denounced her for leaving Islam. Could you imagine a woman in Sudan, which imposes Sharia law, being able to inflict the same punishment on her brother?

“Meriam knows about the campaign to free her, and is grateful. But all she wants is to get out of prison. She doesn’t want to be a star.” According to lawyer, Elshareef Ali Mohamed.

 

Sources:

The Independent 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/apostasy-woman-meriam-ibrahim-us-ambassador-summoned-by-sudan-government-after-christian-convert-detained-trying-to-flee-country-9563842.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/meriam-ibrahim-sudanese-apostasy-woman-rearrested-with-family-at-airport-9559894.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/meriam-ibrahim-release-woman-jailed-for-apostasy-reunited-with-husband-as-family-looks-forward-to-new-life-in-us-9558891.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/apostasy-woman-meriam-ibrahim-brother-says-she-deserves-to-be-executed-unless-she-returns-to-islam-9498929.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/apostasy-woman-meriam-ibrahim-freed-after-sudanese-court-orders-release-state-media-report-9557086.html

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/27/sudanese-woman-meriam-ibrahim-safe-well-us-embassy

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jun/27/christian-convert-meriam-ibrahim-freed-sudan-prison-apostasy-video

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/jun/27/world-in-a-week-meriam-ibrahim-apostasy-death-sentence-overturned

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/26/meriam-ibrahim-freed-rearrest-sudan-airport

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/sudan/10938264/Meriam-Ibrahim-My-baby-is-disabled-because-I-gave-birth-with-my-legs-chained.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/sudan/10929031/Meriam-Ibrahim-freed-from-custody-in-Sudan.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10926452/Meriam-Ibrahim-What-is-really-going-on-in-Sudan.html

Quebecois Government blocks Abdelrazik’s child benefits

The Globe and Mail – June 1, 2011

Quebec has blocked government child-benefit payments to Abousfian Abdelrazik, the only Canadian on the UN’s al-Qaeda blacklist, saying Ottawa must get written permission from the UN Security Council in New York before it will issue the monthly cheques other Canadian parents are entitled to receive. Mr. Abdelrazik is entitled to $183 a month for a preschool-age son, born in Khartoum but who is a Canadian and was repatriated after he returned to Montreal. He has also applied for child-benefit payments for his teenage daughter.

Mr. Abdelrazik has never been charged with a crime in Canada, although he was targeted as a possible al-Qaeda operative and followed by Canadian counterterrorism agents for years. He is the only Canadian on the UN’s terrorist blacklist, called the 1267 list after the number of the Security Council resolution, co-sponsored by Canada, that created it in 1999. He spent nearly six years in forced exile in Sudan, including more than two years in prison where, he claims, he was tortured. He is currently suing the federal government and former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon for $27-million, claiming Canadian agents arranged for his imprisonment in Khartoum and were complicit in his torture.

Canada’s enforcement of UN 1267 sanctions means Mr. Abdelrazik cannot work – because it would be a crime to pay him – and his assets, including the estate of his former wife who died of cancer, have been seized.

Abdelrazik Returns to Canada After Six Years of Exile in Sudan

Abousfian Abdelrazik ended six years in exile in Sudan, where he faced torture at the hands of Sudanese authorities, several thwarted attempts to return and spent over a year stranded at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Mr. Abdelrazik was born in Sudan but fled the country in 1990. He received refugee status in Canada in 1992 and Canadian citizenship in 1995. In 2003, Mr. Abdelrazik traveled back to the country to visit his ailing mother. He was repeatedly imprisoned by Sudanese authorities and tried to return to Canada several times but was denied a passport because he was put on a United Nations no-fly list at the request of the United States.

Both CSIS and the RCMP have said publicly that they have no evidence that Mr. Abdelrazik has been involved in terrorist activities.

Ottawa says citizen stranded in Sudan poses too great a national security risk

Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, poses so grave a threat to Canada that he can’t come back, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon recently announced, abruptly reversing the government’s written promise of an emergency one-way travel document less than two hours before his flight home was to depart from Khartoum.

Abdelrazik was to reach Canada after more than six years of imprisonment and forced exile in Sudan, on a ticket purchased by hundreds of supporters who defied the government’s threat to charge anyone with helping him because he was put on a United Nations terrorist blacklist by the Bush administration.

Instead, two hours before his flight was to depart, government lawyers faxed a one-sentence letter to his lawyers in Ottawa, saying he had been deemed a national security risk and refused travel documents. Abdelrazik responded, “The Harper government says I am an Islamic extremist. This is a lie. I am a Muslim and I pray to my God but this does not make me a terrorist or a criminal.”

Canada denies passport to citizen in the Sudan on no-fly list

Supporters of Abousfian Abdelrazik — a Canadian citizen blacklisted as a terrorist and stranded in Sudan — accused the federal Conservative government of racism for refusing to issue him an emergency passport to fly home to Montreal.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon considers Abdelrazik a national security threat. The refusal represents a reversal of the government’s written promise to issue Abdelrazik an emergency passport if he had a paid-for ticket home.

Abdelrazik remains stranded in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, where he has lived for nearly 11 months. Abdelrazik was added to the list in 2006 by the Bush administration. He has been cleared of any terrorist or criminal involvement by both the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).

The news has also created controversy in the House of Commons. “The government is now in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.

Canadian Accused of Terrorism Stranded in Sudan

Increasing pressure from human-rights groups and members of parliament are calling Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to repatriate Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian labeled as an al-Qaeda threat. Abdelrazik’s situation has improved somewhat as he is now sheltered in a temporary safe haven in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. He claims to have been beaten and abused during his incarceration, and denies any connection to al-Qaeda or having ever been to Afghanistan. Abdelrazik has not seen his children for nearly five years; he is also on a UN no-fly list.