By Josh Ely
WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today told a rally in Washington, D.C., it is time for the U.S. to do something about the plight of Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian woman condemned to death for leaving Islam, even though she was raised a Christian.
Cruz told more than a hundred assembled listeners outside the White House, “Let us unite people across the world to release Meriam.”
Ibrahim, whose husband is an American citizen, is in a prison in Khartoum with her toddler son and newborn daughter, who was born behind bars.
A petition already has been created on the “We the People” White House website, urging the Obama administration to take action on Ibrahim’s behalf.
Her legal case has entered into a lengthy appeals process in Sudan, during which she remains in jail, where she’s been held since January.
Ibrahim was formally charged with the crime of abandoning the Muslim faith in May.
Travis Weber, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty , said the petition is one way to get Americans to speak out and put pressure on the government for Ibrahim’s release.
The rally in Washington was organized by the Institute on Religion and Democracy, International Christian Concern and Open Doors.
Cruz said President Obama “should stand up and tell the government of Sudan to release Meriam now.”
He said there are implications for America: “We take for granted our freedoms in America when people suffer abroad.”
Blogger Scott Morgan, who was at the rally, said the Obama administration has been largely silent on Christian persecution. He said he would tell Ibrahim, “Keep the faith. Stay strong.”
Mrogan said there always is hope that the public pressure on Sudan from rallies, statements and petitions about Ibrahim’s case could impact the situation.
Joel Veldkamp from Christian Solidarity International told WND that’s definitely a possibility and a goal. He said it could cause Muslim governments to realize there is a cost for oppressing Christians.
Actor George Clooney yesterday wrote a commentary about Sudanese violence against Christians and included satellite images of what was described as “evidence of a mass grave in Sudan.”
He explained that America doesn’t need to intervene militarily, but one logical step would be “pressing for the deployment of a senior U.S. official to work full-time on Sudan’s peace process.”
The U.S. also can influence the direction of actions there “through the regime’s wallet,” he said.
Interview with Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council
Religious Freedom Coalition Chairman William Murray has said that the U.S. State Department actions to date have been only to request DNA evidence proving that Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is the father of the two children.
Murray compared the Obama administration’s handling of the case to its release of five Taliban leaders in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is accused of desertion by members of his former unit.
“The mother of those children, Meriam Ibrahim, who is married to an American citizen, has been sentenced to death for the crime of refusing to renounce her Christian faith,” he said. “Unless the defense in handling the two cases is biased, the only argument that can be made in favor of the Obama administration’s actions differing in the two cases is stupidity.”
Nathaniel Bennett, director of government affairs for the American Center for Law and Justice, said Sudan is aware of the international outrage.
“Sudan is scrambling to save face because of the significant international outcry on behalf of Meriam. However, we will not rest until all charges against Meriam are dropped, she is released unconditionally along with her children and we are assured that she is safe from extrajudicial retribution,” Bennett said.
WND reported in May that a Sudanese judge upheld the death sentence given to Ibrahim, claiming that the court correctly ruled that the woman had illegally converted to Christianity.
Interview with Ed Lyons of Persecution Project
Islam analyst Pamela Geller said the Obama White House’s silence on the Ibrahim issue is no surprise.
“Obama won’t touch this. He never speaks out about anything that might reflect negatively on Islam,” she said. “Everything that is happening to her is in accord with Islamic law, and so the International Criminal Court won’t touch it either — to do so would be tantamount to criminalizing Shariah.”
Josh Ely is an intern for WND.