- Exodus of biblical proportions
Hounded out of their homes by Islamist violence, Iraqi Christians face what many fear may be their final festive season in the land of their fathers as many prepare for exile
- Home News
- World News
- Parish Practice
- Letters Extra
- The living Spirit
- Midnight Mass: the ritual under threat from drunken yobbos and a drastic shortage of priests
- Francis names Cardinal Tauran as new camerlengo as Bertone retires
- Iraqi prelate says his London church is treated with 'profound disrespect' by local youths
- Liverpool’s archbishop talks about plans for his diocese, views on the synod and run-ins with Rome in interview
- Why priests are under pressure on Christmas Eve Fr Mark Minihane OSA
- Christmas under curfew in Nigeria Fr John Bakeni
- Francis’ US-Cuba coup demonstrates the Church’s soft power Christopher Lamb
A 27-year-old Sudanese Catholic who gave birth in prison after being sentenced to hang for apostasy in May was freed from Omdurman women’s prison on Monday, but prevented from leaving the country the following day with her husband and two young children.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim left custody after an appeal court cancelled the death sentence, following global outrage and condemnation, but she was stopped from flying from Khartoum airport on Tuesday. Demands for her release accelerated after Ibrahim gave birth three weeks ago while shackled to the floor of her prison cell. Her newborn daughter, Maya, and her toddler son, Martin, were incarcerated with her.
“Despite Mariam’s detention today, I can assure you we are nearing the end of this story”, the chargé d'affaires at the apostolic nunciature in Khartoum told The Tablet on Tuesday. Fr Simon Kassas said that according to Sudanese law, she cannot leave the country immediately. He reported that she and the two children have been issued with South Sudan passports and he expected that this will be their first country of destination when they do eventually go. Ibrahim's husband is a Christian from South Sudan and a US citizen, and the family may eventually settle in the US. US officials in Khartoum have been working on sorting out travel documents acceptable to Sudan and obtaining assurances from Sudan that the family is safe.
Just a week earlier the Archdiocese of Khartoum pleaded with the authorities to review the situation and “honour Mariam's steadfast position to maintain her Christian faith”. Its statement, issued by Fr Mussa Kacho, Episcopal vicar of the Khartoum Archdiocese, said, "never in her life did she embrace the Islamic religion nor renounce it" and "the Catholic Church expresses deep regret over the way the case is being handled in the court in disregard of Ibrahim's moral and religious belief". Ibrahim was condemned for abandoning Islam, but although her father was Muslim, she was raised according to her mother's Christian faith, said the statement.