A Sudanese woman who faced the death penalty for refusing to recant her Christian faith has arrived in New Hampshire, ready to begin a new life.
Meriam Ibrahim, her husband and the couple’s two children arrived Thursday night at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where they were greeted by a throng of supporters from the city’s Sudanese community before getting into an SUV and leaving the airport, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.
“Thank you so much,” her husband, Daniel Wani, told reporters. “I am so relieved.”
Ibrahim, who met Pope Francis at the Vatican last week after fleeing the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, did not speak.
Her brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, said Ibrahim has been granted asylum by the United States and will soon meet with U.S. State Department officials.
Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen since 2005, met Ibrahim on a trip to Sudan in 2011. He traveled to the war-torn African country last year to arrange for his wife and child to move to New Hampshire.
Ibrahim had been sentenced to death over charges of apostasy. Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an Orthodox Christian. She married Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in 2011. Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims. By law, children must follow their father's religion.
Sudan initially blocked Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. At one point, the family took refuge at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum.
"As Sudanese, this story means a lot to us and is beyond a Christian woman being oppressed. It shows the oppression of our people by the current dictatorship regime."
- Rudwan Dawod, Sudanese activist
Gabriel Wani said the family now plans to “relax,” but didn’t have specifics on their immediate future. The Sudanese community in Manchester, northern New England’s largest city, will throw the family a party, he said.
One Sudanese activist who was jailed 45 days in a Khartoum prison for allegedly being a U.S. spy in 2012 told FoxNews.com that Ibrahim's arrival is big news within the north African community.
"As Sudanese, this story means a lot to us and is beyond a Christian woman being oppressed. It shows the oppression of our people by the current dictatorship regime," Rudwan Dawod wrote FoxNews.com. "It also highlights the collective efforts of people from all different backgrounds that supported Meriam's release."
FoxNews.com's Joshua Rhett Miller and The Associated Press contributed to this report.