The Sudanese mom who was freed after being sentenced to death for refusing to renounce Christianity remains holed up with her family in the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, unable to flee the war-torn nation and facing new charges instigated by her own relatives, sources told FoxNews.com.
Meriam Ibrahim and her family are waiting for new travel documents to be issued by the U.S. after being detained last week for what Sudanese authorities alleged were forged South Sudan papers when she tried to leave the country, a source close to the family said. Making matters worse for the mother of two are a new set of charges raised by her own Muslim relatives.
“There are new charges relating to her relationship to her father.”
- Source close to Meriam Ibrahim
“There are new charges relating to her relationship to her father,” said the source. “Possibly to prove that she is Muslim, but nothing has been served so it’s unclear.”
Muslim relatives intend to take her to court to prove that she belongs to their family, according to Ibrahim's supporters. The new charges were filed in a Sudanese family court, with a trial date set for Thursday, according to her attorneys.
Ibrahim’s case first came to the attention of Sudanese authorities back in August, after members of her father’s family complained that she was born a Muslim but married a Christian man. The relatives—including her brother-- claimed her birth name was “Afdal” before she changed it to Meriam and produced a document that indicated she was given a Muslim name at birth. Her attorney has alleged the document was a fake.
Ibrahim says her mother was an Ethiopian Christian and her father a Muslim who abandoned the family when she was a child.
“I was never a Muslim,” she told the Sudanese high court during her apostasy trial. “I was raised a Christian from the start.”
Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, which is punishable by death. Muslim women in Sudan are further prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, although Muslim men are permitted to marry outside their faith. Children, by law, must follow their father’s religion. Ibrahim was sentenced to death on May 15, but allowed to give birth while in prison. On June 24, a higher court freed her, but she was arrested at the airport when she tried to leave. Although she was once again freed, she faces the new charges and has been forbidden to leave the country.
A U.S. State Department official confirmed that Sudan is pressing Ibrahim about her travel documents, which if deemed to include false information about her religion, could constitute a criminal violation.
“The government of Sudan has raised a number of issues related to [Ibrahim's] travel and identification documents,” said a State Department spokesperson.
Last week, Ibrahim’s brother, Al Samani Al Hadi Mohamed Abdullah, claimed that she was “kidnapped” after her release from a Khartoum prison. Abdullah told Sudan newspaper Al Intibaha that she should have been released to the family and not to her husband, Daniel Wani.
"They did not let us know that she was about to be freed," he told the newspaper. "It was a surprise for us."
He also made statements earlier last month that Ibrahim should be executed if she refused to return to the family’s faith of Islam. He maintained those statements in last week’s interview, saying that the court system failed the family by clearing his sister of all charges.
“Our family is not convinced by the decision of the court," he said. "The law has failed to maintain our rights, and now it is a matter of honor. Christians deface our honor, and we know how to take revenge for that."