Christian Woman Leaves Sudan, Meets With Pope

Meriam Ibrahim, family make pit stop in Rome before move to US
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2014 7:40 AM CDT
Christian Woman Leaves Sudan, Meets With Pope
Meriam Ibrahim disembarks with her children Maya, in her arms, and Martin, accompanied by Italian deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, after landing from Khartoum, at Ciampino's military airport.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to denounce her Christian faith—then freed, only to be rearrested and freed again—has finally left the country. After more than a month in the US embassy in Khartoum, Meriam Ibrahim today flew with her family to Rome, where she got something of a rock star's welcome and met with none other than Pope Francis. Italy's vice-minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, shared a photo of himself and Ibrahim on Facebook with the caption, "Mission accomplished." Before that announcement, there had been no indication Italy was involved in Ibrahim's case, the BBC reports, as it looked as though she and her US national husband, Daniel Wani, were planning to head for the US.

That's actually still the case, the AP reports, as the family will spend just a few days in Italy before hopping across the Atlantic. Italy, however, "leveraged its historic ties within the Horn of Africa region to help win her release," the AP notes. Ibrahim had her passport returned to her only yesterday and "while we were doing the final procedures she did not even know if she would be able to go," Pistelli said. Her release is thanks to intense negotiations from both the Italian government and the Vatican, the Telegraph reports, adding that Francis expressed "his gratitude and joy" upon her arrival. (More Meriam Ibrahim stories.)

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