Originally published in The Christian Post
After almost being martyred in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith a few months ago, global Christian icon Meriam Ibrahim, 27, is breathing easier now and smiling.
“Faith means life. If you don’t have faith, you are not alive,” said Meriam Ibrahim when asked if she was afraid of dying for her faith.
In her first public interview since arriving in the US with her two children and husband, Ibrahim revealed how she was able to survive after being placed on death row in Sudan for her Christian beliefs and her response was simple — “faith.”
It was the “only weapon” she used to survive the ordeal. And she believed it was all she needed. She believed God would be sure to deliver her. And He did.
More than 12 000 kilometers away from Sudan where her life was being demanded, Ibrahim is now free to practice her faith and enjoy her family at her new home in Manchester, New Hampshire. And eventually, she hopes to get involved in getting help for the persecuted people of Sudan and promote religious freedom.
Freedom of religion
“I would like to help the people in Sudan and Africa, especially women and children and to promote freedom of religion,” she said near the end of an interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Monday night through a translator.
Ibrahim’s story became a global cause célèbre when she was sentenced to death by hanging while pregnant after she was found guilty by Sudanese officials of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying Daniel Wani, a US citizen earlier this year.
Sudanese officials insisted she was a Muslim and claimed that it was illegal for her to marry Wani, but she maintained Monday that she was never a Muslim.
“I was never a Muslim. I have always been a Christian. If you are a Christian and you convert to Islam, it becomes hard to leave Islam; because if you do so, you will be subjected to the death penalty,” she explained.
In May, Ibrahim gave birth to her daughter, Maya, in a Sudanese prison while in shackles.
“Maya was born under difficult circumstances. I was supposed to give birth at a hospital but they denied that request. When it was time to give birth they refused to remove the chains from my ankles, so I had to give birth in chains. It was difficult,” she said.
“I had my faith in God. I knew that God would help me, that God knew that I was a victim of injustice. It is my right to practice the religion I choose,” she asserted.
She continued: “I was given three days (to renounce Christianity). While I was in prison, some people came to visit me from the Muslim scholars association. These were Imams that created an intervention by reciting parts of the Quran for me. I faced a tremendous amount of pressure.”
Ibrahim, however, didn’t budge.
Plight of Christians
“I had my trust in God. My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with the Imams and Muslim scholars because that’s what I believe,” she said.
When asked why she didn’t convert to Islam to save her life, Ibrahim said she couldn’t because apart from just standing up for her faith, she wanted to draw attention to the plight of Christians in Sudan.
“If I did that that would mean that I gave up. It’s not possible because it’s not true. It’s my right to follow the religion of my choice. I’m not the only one suffering from this problem. There are many Meriams in Sudan and throughout the world, it’s not just me. I am not the only one,” she emphasised.
“I put my life at risk for the women of Sudan. I was close to them and I felt their suffering. I share with them the difficult circumstances in prison and life in general. With regard to the situation of Christians, this is a well-known fact that they live under difficult circumstances and they are persecuted and treated harshly. They are afraid to say that they are Christians out of fear of persecution,” she added.
Ibrahim’s sentence was eventually appealed and overturned, and she was allowed to leave Sudan alive with her family due in part to public pressure that prompted the US State Department to take action. Ibrahim was subsequently released to Italian officials in July before entering the US.