The Conversation

While Obama remains silent, Congress moves to rescue Meriam Ibrahim

President Obama doesn't seem interested in using his pen, phone, "smart power," and "intensive diplomacy" where it might actually do some good, such as rescuing condemned Christian woman Meriam Ibrahim from the clutches of Sudanese barbarians.  There was a rally for Ibrahim outside the White House on Thursday, 

So Congress is stepping up, with a bill introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to grant Ibrahim and her two children (one a newborn, the other a toddler imprisoned alongside her while she awaits death by hanging for alleged "apostasy" against Islam) permanent legal status as a U.S. citizen.  Her husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen who immigrated legally a decade ago.

The bill has been attracting both Republican and Democrat sponsors.  Senator Ted Cruz, who attended the Thursday rally, just signed on as a sponsor:

“Meriam Ibrahim, a young wife and mother, is facing horrific persecution simply for being a Christian,” said Sen. Cruz. “Her husband is an American from New Hampshire, and her 20-month-old son Martin and newborn daughter Maya--both American citizens--are with their mother in a wretched Sudanese prison. Just days ago, Meriam gave birth to baby Maya, while in leg irons. Because of her faith, the government of Sudan has sentenced her to 100 lashes and then to hang by the neck until dead.

"This is wrong, it is grotesque, and it must be stopped. Every member of Congress should come together to support this bill and implore President Obama to act now, to defend religious liberty, and to save Meriam and bring her and her babies home to America."

Let's make passage of this bill swift and irresistibly bipartisan.  There's no further point in wondering why President Obama won't do anything to help Daniel and Meriam, but he probably won't block a rescue from Congress.

Update: I see that after almost 400k signatures on a White House petition, a demonstration outside the White House, and Congress taking up legislation to intervene on Meriam Ibrahim's behalf, Secretary of State John Kerry finally got around to condemning Sudan's treatment of her.  Of course, it's the usual soup of self-serving rhetoric and self-back-patting about how much Kerry cares about the wondrous land of Sudan, which he feels a deep personal connection to... and it stops short of actually doing anything, such as formally declaring Ibrahim a US citizen, or acknowledging that her imprisoned toddler and baby already are.

The United States remains deeply concerned about the conviction and continued imprisonment of Ms. Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag.

Sudan’s journey has long been a struggle, and back when I was still a United States Senator, I traveled to the region many times to help find greater understanding and hope for a different kind of future. As Secretary, I remain deeply committed to the country and its people. That is one of the reasons we are all so concerned about the travails of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag.

Ms. Ishag is the mother of two young children. She and the children should be reunited at home with her family rather than held in prison on charges of apostasy. I urge the Sudanese judiciary and government to respect Ms. Ishag’s fundamental right to freedom of religion. I also urge Sudan to repeal its laws that are inconsistent with its 2005 Interim Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Such actions would help to demonstrate to the Sudanese people that their government intends to respect their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.

I might let him slide on some of the "deeply concerned" diplomatic boilerplate, but a great many of the Sudanese people are more interested in a "demonstration" of apostates getting slaughtered under sharia law than a "demonstration" of their government's commitment to UN declarations or "universal human rights."  The pretense of expecting civilized behavior from barbarians is only tolerable when the barbarians understand what civilization is prepared to do to defend itself.


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