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July 31. 2014 9:27PM

Meriam Ibrahim, family welcomed as long journey ends in Manchester


Pope Francis, second from left, talks with Meriam Ibrahim of Sudan, while her husband and two children sit beside her, during a private meeting at the Vatican July 24. (REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

MANCHESTER — Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived in Manchester with her family on Thursday night.

“God heard our prayers,” said Gabriel Wanni of Manchester, Ibrahim’s brother-in-law.

Ibrahim and Wanni’s brother, Daniel, along with their children, flew from Rome to Philadelphia and then on to Manchester.

No party was planned for Thursday night.

“They’re going to be tired and exhausted,” Wanni said.

Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen since 2005, met his wife on a trip to Sudan in 2011. He went to Sudan last summer to arrange for his wife and child to move to New Hampshire, where the Wanni brothers immigrated in 1998 after fleeing the war-torn African country.

However, she was jailed in February after a member of her family told authorities she recently converted from Islam to marry her Christian husband. In May, while eight months pregnant, Ibrahim was given a death sentence by a Sudanese court.

Her conviction was quashed in June, but Sudan’s government accused her of trying to leave the country with falsified papers, preventing her departure for the United States with her husband and two children.

She was initially detained, then released and moved into the U.S. embassy in Khartoum.

After Ibrahim’s release, the family met Pope Francis at the Vatican July 24.

Wanni on Thursday thanked those who helped secure Ibrahim’s release.

“I appreciate what everyone did,” Wanni said.


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