Finn Church Aid arranged a discussion between US religious leaders and the Ambassador of Sudan. Next step of FCA is to lead delegation of religion leaders to Sudan. The aim is to advocate for Meriam Ibrahim’s right to freedom of religion.
Sudan’s Ambassador to the United States, Maowia Khalid promises that the imprisoned Sudanese mother, Meriam Ibrahim, will get a fair and legal trial in her home country.
“However, it might take several years to get a final decision in our courts”, he said at a meeting in Washington organised by the secretariat of The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers; Finn Church Aid.
Taking part in the discussions were renowned US religious leaders as well as high-ranking officials. Also participating in the talks was Finn Church Aid employee, Mohammed Elsanousi, who works as director of external relations for the Network. He is working through the Network in an effort to secure Ibrahim’s religious liberty.
“I am happy that the Network has been able to facilitate with the discussions on the release of Meriam Ibrahim. We are now assembling a global interreligious delegation to Sudan in order to advocate on behalf of Meriam’s religious freedom”, said Elsanousi on Friday.
Not a political case, but a legal one
The religious leaders expressed their deep concern over the predicament of Meriam Ibrahim to the Sudanese Ambassador. Ibrahim, a Christian, faces a sentence of death by hanging for apostasy. Reports indicate that Ibrahim is a Muslim because her father is a Muslim. Ibrahim’s marriage to a Christian spouse has not been officially recognised.
Ibrahim was pregnant when she was imprisoned. The week before last she gave birth to a baby girl while in prison. She and her husband also have a year-and-a-half-old son.
Ambassador Maowia Khalid said in the discussions in Washington that he understands the concern felt in the West over Ibrahim’s fate. He noted that in Sudan the matter is seen more as a legal than a political issue, although the country’s constitution of 2005 guarantees freedom of religion.
“Unfortunately, the law is not compatible with our constitution. I don’t want to defend it or make excuses, but Sudan has experienced one war after another, and the government’s attention is focused on other things than normal work and monitoring the implementation of the law”, he noted.
According to Khalid, both of Ibrahim’s parents are Muslims.
“It is good that Meriam’s family has brought the matter to court. The case will be handled at first in a court of first instance, and this could take more than two years. After that, the case will go to a court of appeals, and finally, to the Supreme Court. After this the matter can be brought before the Constitutional Court”, Khalid said, explaining his country’s legal practice.
A great attention was a surprise
The religious leaders emphasised that all religious denominations are concerned about Ibrahim’s fate. The leaders noted that they were afraid that the case would tend to increase mistrust between Christians and Muslims.
Maowia Khalid admitted to being surprised at the amount of international attention that Ibrahim’s situation had received.
“Recently in Jordan, a 23-year-old woman converted from Christianity to Islam and she was killed. Not a word was said about her in the media”, the Ambassador said.
He said that the attention attracted by the Ibrahim case could expedite legal proceedings.
After the discussion, it was agreed that representatives of the Network would travel to Sudan. Ambassador Maowia Khalid promised to help in organising the trip and said that he would make efforts to see to it that members of the Network would get to meet Meriam Ibrahim as soon as possible.
Members of the Network hope to arrange discussions with Sudanese officials and the country’s religious leaders. On Friday, FCA promised to lead delegation of religion leaders to Sudan.
Finn Church Aid has a strong role in the peace mediation Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. The organisation has served as the Network’s secretariat since last year.
Interfaith Delegation Members
1. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of External Relations, The Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers
2. David Saperstein, Director and Counsel for Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
3. Ann Tiemeyer: Interim Associate General Secretary for Joint Action & Advocacy at National Council of Churches
4. Roy Medley: General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA)
Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director for External Relations, Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, Finn Church Aid, tel. +1 (317) 506-2835 or
Antti Pentikäinen , Executive Director, Finn Church Aid, tel: +358 40 531 3514