Last month the story of 27-year-old Sudanese, Meriam Ibrahim sparked international recognition. She was incarcerated for adultery and apostasy (the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle). The court felt that Meriam was a Muslim because her father was a Muslim; however, she stated that she was raised as a Christian, following her father’s departure from the family when she was six years old. She was found culpable of the charge.
Meriam married her husband Daniel in 2011; he is a Christian. In Sudan, interfaith marriage defies the law. She was given three days to renounce her faith after being sentenced to have her life ended. This challenged her morals and values. Meriam is the mother of a young boy and was eight months pregnant when incarcerated. Her sentence was postponed to allow her to give birth and nurse her child; whilst incarcerated, Meriam gave birth to a baby girl named Maya.
Meriam’s story instigated action from thousands of people around the world, including politicians, religious leaders, celebrities, and human rights organizations. Together with the media they have joined to make an international campaign to appeal for her release. The story has touched the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, which has allowed them to speak out for this unique case.
The foreign office also petitioned for Meriam and called upon the Sudanese government to retract the ruling. Social media sites Twitter and Facebook have been influential in campaigning for Meriam. Human rights organizations Amnesty International and Change.org have created email-led petitions, allowing citizens to get involved in cyber-support her release. One dedicated campaign has achieved almost one million signatures from around the globe. This action shows that a sense of world community is coming together to support this woman in need.
It appeared that this chorus of voices demanding justice for Meriam was heard. On Monday, a Sudanese appeals court ordered her release. The court had been hearing an appeal for Meriam’s release over the past two weeks; her lawyers claimed the prosecutor’s case was far from legible. Subsequently Meriam was released on a court order and was reunited with her husband. The challenges that Meriam and her family have endured in these events brings light that the right to religious freedom may possibly be a fraction safer, demonstrating clear evidence that greater change is possible and is already in motion. When speaking to the media, Meriam’s husband declared that he was ‘so happy’ and stated that overcoming this hurdle; they planned to begin a new life in the US.
Monday’s reports stated that Meriam was ‘happy,’ ‘in good condition’ and in a safe house. There were suggestions that she may be susceptible to challenging confrontation from those who hold Sudanese laws in high regard, though it was thought that the amount of attention her case has drawn, she would be safe-havened until her safe arrival into the US.
In following news on the case however, it was reported that Meriam and her husband were intercepted at Khartoum Airport in Sudan. Meriam was re-incarcerated and detained at The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Whilst this can be viewed as a challenging turn of events, it was been stated by the Sudanese government that she would be released ‘soon’ and today they have re-released Meriam.
Already the British Prime Minister has spoken out about this latest revelation and undoubtedly others will follow suit with even more plight than before. Meriam Ibrahim has faced many challenges yet still aims to move forward with her life and create a better future for her family.
This incredible story opens the gateway for revolutionary change in interfaith marriages and allows society to recognize, via Meriam, several productive elements, which can implement groundbreaking change. This case may also show that when politicians, leading organizations and institutions combine with the help of social media, justice can be achieved. With the compassion of others and those in powerful positions, the human race can join together for a shared cause and we can work towards achieving human rights for everyone.
The fact that this story has achieved abundant media coverage can enlighten the minds of some and make them aware of how different some laws are in other countries. It demonstrates that with a simple online submission, people can make a difference and can encourage them to act in any similar situations arising in the future. Additionally it has propelled the topic of religious freedom and women’s rights into global conversation and may perhaps drive the Sudanese government to review their laws and free others such as Meriam for good.
How can the Meriam Ibrahim case bring attention to revolutionary change in interfaith marriages?