Sudanese Christian Mom Now Free, Arrives in Italy

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Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who nearly died for refusing to recant her faith, is now a free woman.

Ibrahim, 27, arrived in Italy Thursday following an extended stay at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded her release.

"We celebrate Meriam Ibrahim and her family's escape to freedom," he said. "It is our hope and prayer that Meriam and her family will now enjoy the liberty to practice their Christian faith without government interference or persecution.

Meriam Ibrahim is safely in Rome but is her ordeal over? Tina Ramirez, founder of Hardwired, an organization that works to end religious oppression around the world, explains what's next and how you can continue to help.

Sign the petition to help change Sudan's oppressive apostasy laws.

The mother of two had been sentenced to death for marrying a Christian, who is an American citizen, and for abandoning the Muslim faith.

A judge dropped the sentence after international outcry, but not before Ibrahim was forced to give birth to her second child in shackles.

Her release comes just one day after a congressional hearing about her plight, where religious rights advocates warned that her case is just one of many.

"She is the tip of the iceberg," Zuhdi Jasser, vice-chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.

"For every one case of Meriam Ibrahim, there are hundreds, if not thousands of those Sudanese and others who are victims of a draconian implementation of Sharia law that creates an existence for the Sudanese under the leadership of President Bashir that is really an abomination of religious freedom," he charged.

Perkins, who also testified before the House panel, agreed, suggesting the Obama administration has dropped the ball on addressing religious persecution.

"The United States needs to show more concern about religious hostility and persecution abroad, in particular the case with Meriam Ibrahim, where I think the response of the United States has been woefully inadequate," Perkins told lawmakers.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the subcommittee was equally critical, saying the U.S. State Department is aggressively promoting gay rights at the expense of religious rights.

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